Gasoline Reaches Six-Week High on Job Growth Amid Egypt Unrest

Gasoline jumped to a six-week high as the U.S. added more jobs in June than forecast and political unrest in Egypt boosted crude.

Futures gained 2.1 percent as the Labor Department reported nonfarm payrolls climbed 195,000 workers for a second straight month. Crude oil rose to a 14-month high as clashes in Egypt between security forces and Islamist supporters of deposed President Mohamed Mursi left five dead and 20 wounded. Crack spreads widened.

“The nonfarm payroll number is higher and that’s going to help demand,” said Carl Larry, president of Oil Outlooks & Opinions LLC in Houston. “You’re seeing support because of Egypt.”

August-delivery gasoline gained 5.86 cents, or 2.1 percent, to settle at $2.8968 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest close since May 20. Trading volume was 38 percent below the 100-day average at 4:21 p.m. Prices gained 5.3 percent this week, the largest increase since Feb. 1.

West Texas Intermediate crude for August delivery rose $1.98 to $103.22, the highest settlement since May 2, 2012. August Brent advanced $2.18 to $107.72, the highest level in three months, on the London ICE Futures Exchange.

“The whole market is maintaining momentum, clearly boosted with Brent leading the way with heightened concerns about what’s going on in Egypt,” said Addison Armstrong, director of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. “There’s clearly no shyness about getting long.”

Revisions to the April and May payrolls reports added a total of 70,000 jobs to the employment count. The jobless rate held steady at 7.6 percent, while hourly earnings in the year ended in June advanced by the most since July 2011.

Egyptian Turmoil

Egypt is under the rule of a military-appointed interim government since Mursi, the country’s first democratically elected president, was deposed by the military July 3. The Suez Canal remained open. Egypt controls the canal and the Suez-Mediterranean Pipeline, through which a combined 2.24 million barrels a day of crude was shipped from the Red Sea to Europe and North American in 2011, according to Energy Information Administration data.

“The market is focused on continued unrest in Egypt and the better-than-expected jobs report including upward revisions from previous months,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC in Houston.

Gasoline’s crack spread versus WTI widened 30 cents to $18.26 a barrel. The fuel’s premium over Brent rose 34 cents to $14.

Pump Prices

Pump prices, averaged nationwide, fell 0.1 cent to $3.476 a gallon, Heathrow, Florida-based AAA said today on its website. Retail costs have fallen to the lowest level since Jan. 31.

Ultra-low-sulfur diesel, or ULSD, for August delivery rose 3.85 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $2.9897 a gallon on volume that was 5.1 percent below the 100-day average. That’s the highest settlement in three months. Futures rose 3.8 percent this week, the biggest increase in 10 weeks.

ULSD’s crack spread versus West Texas Intermediate crude fell 36 cents to $22.35 a barrel. Its premium to Brent slipped 34 cents to $18.07.

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