Gasoline Rises on Factory Expansion, Rising Consumer Confidence

Gasoline rose, reversing an earlier loss, as reports showed U.S. manufacturing expanded in February and consumer confidence climbed, indicating demand may strengthen.

Futures gained 0.5 percent after the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment advanced to 77.6 from 73.8 in January. The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index increased to 54.2, from 53.1 in January, the Tempe, Arizona-based group said today.

“We bounced on the better-than-expected consumer confidence and manufacturing,” said Gene McGillian, an analyst and broker at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.

April-delivery gasoline advanced 1.69 cents to settle at $3.1286 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Volume was 18 percent above the 100-day average for the time of day. Prices dipped to $3.059 before the reports. The April contract fell 4.2 percent this week.

Today’s bounce follows a 3.7 percent loss in February for the front-month contract. Gasoline is up 11 percent this year, the second-best performer on the Standard & Poor’ GSCI commodity index since December. Prices have gained on speculation that seasonal maintenance and unplanned refinery shutdowns would tighten supplies.

“There are some concerns about supply during maintenance and some concern that it fell too hard too fast,” said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “We hit a little bit of a rebound today, although I don’t think the sell-off is over yet. There’s still some technical weakness. We failed to rise above yesterday’s highs and we fell lower than yesterday’s lows.”

Heating oil for April delivery fell 3.02 cents, or 1 percent, to $2.9301 a gallon. Trading volume was 12 percent above the 100-day average. The April contract retreated 5.5 percent this week.

Gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, fell 1.1 cents to $3.771 a gallon, AAA said today on its website. Prices are up 15 percent this year.

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