Gasoline rose the most in seven weeks, gaining along with crude as economic data out of the U.S. and U.K. boosted optimism that demand for transportation fuels will climb. Crack spreads widened.
Futures advanced 2.3 percent. The fuel’s premium over June West Texas Intermediate grew 26 cents to $24.41 a barrel, while the spread versus Brent increased 79 cents to $14.64. Britain’s economy expanded more than forecast in the first quarter. Fewer Americans than expected filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments last week.
“Everyone was really focused on London this morning, fearing economic data that could put us into triple-dip recession,” said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst for the Price Futures Group in Chicago. “Instead the numbers blew away expectations.”
Gasoline for May delivery rose 6.44 cents to settle at $2.8118 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange on volume that was 12 percent below the 100-day average for the time of day. It’s the largest percentage gain since March 8.
Gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, fell 0.4 cent to $3.512 a gallon, AAA said on its website today.
Applications for jobless benefits decreased by 16,000 to 339,000 in the week ended April 20, the lowest level since March 9, according to Labor Department data released today in Washington. Economists projected 350,000 claims, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.
Britain’s economy grew 0.3 percent in the first quarter after contracting 0.3 percent in the previous period, the Office for National Statistics said. Economists projected 0.1 percent growth, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.
The news further buoyed outlook for gasoline a day after the U.S. Energy Information Administration said implied demand for the fuel rose 3.4 percent last week to 9.24 million barrels a day, the highest level since Nov. 16.
“Demand has come out of nowhere,” Flynn said. “Where did these drivers come from? Who knew a 15- to 20-cent drop in gasoline prices would get people to fill their tanks up?”
WTI for June delivery rose $2.21 to $93.64 a barrel on the Nymex. Brent for June settlement climbed $1.68 to $103.41 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
Ultra-low-sulfur diesel for May delivery gained 6.04 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $2.9017 a gallon on the Nymex. Trading volume was 3.3 percent above the 100-day average.
ULSD’s crack spread versus June West Texas Intermediate crude lost 2 cents to $27.31 a barrel. The spread versus Brent increased 51 cents to $17.54.