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Gasoline Extends Drop to Longest Since 2006 on Unit Start

Gasoline fell an eighth straight day, the longest series of declines since February 2006, on speculation that supplies will increase as refineries start units after repairs.

Futures sank to the lowest level since July 2 as Exxon Mobil Corp. resumed operations on a coker at the Joliet, Illinois, refinery after an Oct. 19 upset. Valero Energy Corp. and Citgo Petroleum Corp. are starting units following maintenance at the McKee and Corpus Christi, Texas, plants.

“Gasoline continues to retreat on the idea that refineries are going to be off their maintenance and we don’t have strong demand,” said Gene McGillian, an analyst and broker at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

Gasoline for November delivery declined 4.88 cents, or 1.8 percent, to settle at $2.6475 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices have dropped 21 percent since the beginning of the fourth quarter.

U.S. gasoline stockpiles rose 1.72 million barrels in the week ended Oct. 12, according to Energy Department data, after falling 10 of the prior 11 weeks. Supplies probably climbed 500,000 barrels last week, according to the median estimate of nine analysts in a survey by Bloomberg News. The department is scheduled to report last week’s inventories on Oct. 24.

Pump Prices

Regular gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, declined 1.1 cents to $3.665 a gallon yesterday, according to AAA, the nation’s largest motoring organization. That’s the 11th consecutive day prices sank, and the lowest level since Aug. 8.

“After the big selloff on Friday, we did some technical damage,” said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “But the big drop in retail gasoline prices probably signals plenty of supply moving forward.”

Petroleo Brasileiro SA plans to start a fluid catalytic cracker at its Pasadena, Texas, refinery this week, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation.

“We should see a big uptick in refinery runs and in supply,” Flynn said.

November-delivery heating oil sank 5.78 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $3.0767 a gallon, the lowest settlement price since Oct. 3.

Supplies of distillates, including heating oil and diesel, probably fell 1.5 million barrels last week, according to the survey.

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