By MOMING ZHOU and MARK SHENK
Gasoline futures rallied while crude oil slipped to a
six-month low as refineries slowed their operations, pushing
gasoline inventories down by the most in four months.
Gasoline headed for the biggest one-day gain since June,
widening the profit refineries make from processing a barrel
of crude into the fuel. Plants cut their operating rate by
the most since June, the Energy Information Administration
said. Gasoline stockpiles decreased 4.39 million bbl last
week, the most since April, and consumption over four weeks
increased to the highest level since June 13.
The drawdown in refinery
products is impressive
and definitely supportive, said John Kilduff, a partner
at Again Capital, a New York-based hedge fund that focuses on
energy. Demand for gasoline is strong. Its a
turnaround of the overall situation.
Gasoline for September delivery climbed 3.24 cents, or 1.2%,
to $2.7479/gal at 1:57 p.m. on the New York Mercantile
Exchange after sinking to $2.7155 on Tuesday. The volume of
all futures traded was 19% above the 100-day average.
West Texas Intermediate crude declined 50 cents, or 0.5%, to
$96.88/bbl on the Nymex after reaching $96.86, the lowest
since Feb. 4. Trading was 3.8% above the 100- day average.
Gasolines gain widened the crack spread, a rough
measure of the profit from processing a barrel of oil into
gasoline, to $18.69/bbl from $16.67 on Tuesday. It settled at
$16.08 on July 24, the lowest since February.
US refineries operated at 92.4% of their capacity last week,
down 1.1 percentage points from 93.5% the previous week.
Gasoline inventories fell to 213.8 million bbl in the week
ended Aug. 1, the EIA, the Energy Departments
statistical arm, said. They reached 218.2 million the
previous week, the most since March. Consumption in the four
weeks ended Aug. 1 rose to 9.05 million bpd.
The most important thing is gasoline demand, said
Carl Larry, president of Oil Outlooks & Opinions in
Houston. The draw is because demand is higher. The
margin is coming back.
Inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for WTI
futures on the Nymex, increased for the first time in a
month, up 83,000 bbl to 18 million. A July 29 fire forced the
shutdown of CVR Energy's refinery
in Coffeyville, Kansas,
which uses supplies from Cushing. The 115,000-bpd refinery
may be shut for four weeks, CEO Jack Lipinski said July 31.
This was certainly a bullish report, said Jim
Russell, who helps oversee $124 billion as a senior equity
strategist at US Bank Wealth Management in Cincinnati.
There was a refinery outage in the central US, which
helps explain the big drop in gasoline supply. This is
temporary but still having an impact on the market.
Distillate fuels, including diesel and heating oil, decreased
for the first time since May, down 1.8 million bbl to 124.9
million. Crude supplies dropped 1.76 million to 365.6
We had a very significant drop in gasoline stocks and
distillate as well, said James Williams, an economist
at WTRG Economics, an energy-research firm in London,
Arkansas. Part of that drop is due to the Kansas refinery
that caught fire.
Brent for September settlement rose 19 cents to $104.80/bbl
on the London-based ICE Futures Europe
exchange. It closed at
$104.61/bbl on Tuesday, the lowest since Nov. 7. The Europe
an benchmark crude was at a
premium of $7.57 to WTI on the ICE. It closed at $7.23 on