Ethanol Discount to Gasoline Widens on Concern Imports Will Rise

Ethanol’s discount to gasoline swelled to the widest in nine weeks on concern the fuel’s gain this year will attract Brazilian supply.

The spread, or price difference, widened 2.12 cents to 40.03 cents a gallon a day after raw-sugar futures dropped to the lowest price in almost three years. While corn is mostly used to make ethanol in the U.S., the Brazilian variety is derived from the sweetener.

“We keep watching sugar prices make new lows,” said Chris Wilson, a broker at Atten Babler Risk Management LLC in Galena, Illinois. “There’s the thought that we’ll get bombarded with Brazilian ethanol over the next 45 days.”

Denatured ethanol for July delivery rose 3 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $2.461 a gallon on the Chicago Board of Trade. Prices have gained 12 percent this year.

Gasoline for July delivery gained 5.12 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $2.8613 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract covers reformulated gasoline, made to be blended with ethanol before delivery to filling stations.

Ethanol imports have averaged 17,000 barrels a day through June 7, an Energy Information Administration report showed yesterday, up from 6,000 during the same period in 2012.

Anhydrous fuel ethanol in Sao Paulo cost $2.33 a gallon last week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, down from $2.65 in April.

Ethanol in Brazil’s Center-South, the main sugarcane growing region, rose to 1.57 billion liters (9.86 million barrels) in the second half of May from 1.29 billion a year earlier, Sao Paulo-based industry group Unica said in a June 11 report. Mills turned 58.2 percent of cane into ethanol, up from 51.7 percent a year ago, it said.

Ethanol Production

U.S. ethanol production was little changed at 884,000 barrels a day in the week ended June 7, down from 885,000 a year earlier and the record 963,000 in December 2011, the Energy Department’s analytical arm said. Stockpiles tumbled 2.6 percent to 16 million barrels, the lowest level in records begun in June 2010.

Corn for July delivery fell 7.25 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $6.435 a bushel in Chicago. The corn crush spread, or the cost difference between ethanol and the corn needed to make it, was 12 cents a gallon, up from 6 cents yesterday.

In cash market trading, ethanol sank 3.5 cents to $2.595 a gallon in New York, 0.5 cent to $2.605 on the Gulf Coast and 2 cents to $2.81 on the West Coast, data compiled by Bloomberg shows. The price in Chicago rose 1.5 cents to $2.525 a gallon.

Chicago’s discount to New York Harbor narrowed 5 cents to 7 cents. The West Coast’s premium to the Gulf Coast slimmed 1.5 cents to 20.5 cents.

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