Diesel Futures Rise for Third Straight Day; Crack Spreads Widen

Ultra-low-sulfur diesel futures followed crude oil higher, advancing for the third straight day after reaching a nine-month low April 17. Crack spreads widened.

Futures rose 0.8 percent. The fuel has climbed 2.7 percent since settling at $2.7346 a gallon April 17. ULSD’s crack spread versus May West Texas Intermediate crude widened 16 cents to $29.23 a barrel. The June spread versus Brent gained 9 cents to $17.02.

“Heating oil is tracking Brent higher,” said Gene McGillian, an analyst and broker for Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. “Brent getting back on top of $100 seems to have given heating oil some support.

Ultra-low-sulfur diesel for May delivery advanced 2.18 cents to settle at $2.8094 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Trading volume was 29 percent below the 100-day average.

Brent for June settlement rose 74 cents to settle at $100.39 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe Exchange. WTI for May delivery rose 75 cents to $88.76 a barrel on the Nymex.

Crude oil advanced after G-20 finance chiefs backed the Bank of Japan’s plan to buy 7 trillion yen ($70 billion) of bonds a month. The United Arab Emirates’ energy minister said today that he considers global oil markets to be ‘‘well-balanced.”

Gasoline Lags

Gasoline futures lagged behind diesel as sales of previously owned U.S. homes dropped unexpectedly in March, raising concern about demand for the fuel.

Purchases of previously owned houses, tabulated when a contract closes, fell 0.6 percent to a 4.92 million annual rate last month, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 75 economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected sales would increase to a 5 million rate. Prices climbed, reflecting more demand for higher-priced houses.

“The housing numbers were a little weaker than expected,” said Carl Larry, president of Oil Outlooks and Opinions LLC in Houston. “Gasoline right now is the best indicator of our domestic recovery. If demand’s not growing, gasoline’s not going.”

Gasoline for May delivery fell 0.3 cent to $2.7694 a gallon on volume that was 26 percent below the 100-day average for the time of day.

The fuel’s crack spread versus May WTI declined 88 cents to $27.55 a barrel. The June spread versus Brent sank 74 cents to $15.59.

Gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, rose 0.1 cent to $3.518 a gallon, AAA said today on its website.

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