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May 22 (Bloomberg) -- Gasoline futures advanced to a three-week high in New York as sales of homes in the U.S. rose for the first time in four months, signaling stronger economic growth and fuel demand.

Futures climbed 0.4 percent. Sales of previously owned homes climbed 1.3 percent in April, the National Association of Realtors reported today. Demand for gasoline over the past four weeks grew to 8.94 million barrels a day, the highest level since November and up 5.3 percent from a year earlier. Memorial Day, which falls this year on May 26, marks the unofficial start of the summer driving season.

“There’s more hope the economy is growing,” Carl Larry, president of Oil Outlooks & Opinions LLC in Houston, said in a telephone interview. “Demand is strong, and it’s not looking like it’s going to get any weaker going into the summer holiday.”

June-delivery gasoline rose 1.16 cents to settle at $3.0058 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It’s the highest settlement since April 30.

Gasoline’s crack spread versus WTI widened 71 cents to $21.77 a barrel based on July contracts. The premium to Brent climbed 57 cents to $15.15.

The average U.S. pump price rose 0.7 cent to $3.649 a gallon, according to data from Heathrow, Florida-based AAA.

Ultra low sulfur diesel for June delivery fell 0.26 cent to $2.9507 a gallon. The fuel’s crack spread versus West Texas Intermediate crude widened 22 cents to $20.16 a barrel based on July contracts. The premium to Brent rose 8 cents to $13.54.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Murtaugh in Houston at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dan Stets at Richard Stubbe, Bill Banker

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