By KONSTANTIN ROZHNOV
LONDON -- Surging retail fuel sales in the UK amid a threat of a tanker drivers strike are supporting demand in Europe's diesel and gasoline markets, and the refined product's premiums to physical benchmark Brent are expected to rise in the coming days, traders and analysts said Friday.
The higher premiums often provide a temporary boost to the struggling European refining sector, as they translate into higher profit margins.
The Retail Motor Industry Federation, a UK trade group representing 5,500 independent filling stations, said Friday sales of gasoline jumped 171.8% Thursday from the same day last week while diesel sales increased 76.8% over the period as consumers stockpile fuel.
This factor, which comes on top of expectations of an Easter demand surge and concerns over water levels in the Rhine, is already pushing higher prompt demand in European oil products markets, traders and analysts said.
It hasn't had any real impact on prices yet, but is likely to boost diesel and gasoline premiums to physical benchmark Brent, said Pieter Kulsen, an independent oil analyst at PJK International BV.
Both demand and premiums are seen strong in the coming days, but the rise will be short-lived, as it's caused by temporary factors, analysts and traders said.
"The current process of hoarding [in the UK] translates in very high prompt demand but that will be replaced by lower future demand," said Olivier Jakob, managing director of Swiss consultancy Petromatrix.
Dow Jones Newswires