19 May 2010 22:13 [Source: ICIS news]
The June reformulated gasoline blendstock for oxygenate blending (RBOB) contract fell 2.79 cents to finish floor trading at $2.0152/gal.
Front-month WTI crude oil managed a 46-cent gain for the day and settled at $69.87/bbl after trading as low as $67.90/bbl earlier in the session.
WTI usually provides a directional bellwether for RBOB pricing, but a narrow draw in stockpiles last week kept a lid on any upward momentum in the gasoline futures market.
Analysts had predicted as much as a 2.5m bbl draw from gasoline stocks in the week ended 14 May, but the Energy Information Administration (EIA) report earlier Wednesday showed the pull was only 300,000 bbl.
Total stocks were at 221.8m bbl, 9% higher than the same time last year when stocks were at 203.9m bbl, according to the EIA.
Energy analyst Stephen Schork, editor of The Schork Report, pointed to recently-high refinery utilisation rates resulting in substantial gasoline production, which is averaging 9.2m bbl/day, 2.1% above the seasonal norm.
In addition, refinery rates hit a 2010 high at 89.6% of capacity in the week ended 30 April. But the EIA subsequently reported the largest weekly gasoline draw on record for the first week of May.
Refiners ran at 87.9% during the week ended 14 May, according to the EIA.
Gasoline prices are an important barometer for aromatic petrochemical values.
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