Tags: Gasoline | prices | Rise | Inventory | Drop | Higher | Demand

Gasoline Prices Rise Most in a Month on Inventory Drop, Higher Demand

Wednesday, 29 Sep 2010 01:13 PM

Gasoline rose the most in a month after the Energy Department reported that demand surged last week and supplies slid to a nine-week low.

Futures advanced as demand jumped 6.1 percent from a week earlier. Gasoline stockpiles fell 3.47 million barrels to 222.6 million, the lowest level since July 23. It was the largest drop since October 2009. An increase of 350,000 barrels was projected in a Bloomberg News survey.

“There’s no doubt this weekly report is bullish,” said David Pursell, a managing director at Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. LLC in Houston. “You had draws across the board. Refinery utilization is down. And the magnitude of the gasoline draw and the nice uptick in the demand are the biggest positives.”

Gasoline for October delivery rose 3.87 cents, or 2 percent, to $1.9866 a gallon at 12:21 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The higher-demand summer driving season traditionally ends after the U.S. Labor Day holiday, which this year occurred on Sept. 6. Stockpiles are 5.3 percent above a year earlier, and 13 percent above the five-year average, according to the department.

“The size of the draw today is a little bullish,” said Sander Cohan, an analyst with Energy Security Analysis Inc. in Wakefield, Massachusetts. “You still have a lot of supply out there.”

U.S. refiners reduced operating rates 2 percentage points to 85.8 percent last week, the lowest level since April 9.

Demand, as measured by what refiners and blenders supply to wholesalers, rose to an average 9.38 million barrels a day.

Retail Demand

U.S. retail gasoline consumption fell for the fifth time in six weeks as fuel use declined everywhere except on the East Coast, MasterCard Inc. said yesterday. Motorists bought an average 8.98 million barrels of fuel a day in the week ended Sept. 24, down 0.2 percent from the prior week.

The premium of gasoline over crude oil, or the crack spread, based on November contracts, widened about 21 cents to $5.38 a barrel.

Supplies of distillates, including heating oil and diesel, fell 1.27 million barrels to 173.6 million barrels, the lowest level in seven weeks. A rise of 325,000 barrels was projected in the survey. Inventories are 22 percent above the five-year average for the period, according to department data.

Demand for distillates rose 5.7 percent to an average of 3.9 million barrels a day.

Heating oil for October delivery added 5.35 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $2.178 a gallon, the biggest jump in almost two months. The heating oil crack spread, based on November contracts, gained about 56 cents to $14.61 a barrel.

Regular gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, rose 0.1 cent to $2.692 a gallon yesterday, AAA said on its website.

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