Gasoline slid to a three-week low as slower job growth in the U.S. and accelerating inflation in China raised concern that global demand for fuel may shrink.
Futures fell on the first trading day after an April 6 Labor Department report showed that the U.S. added the fewest jobs in five months in March. China’s inflation accelerated more than forecast last month. U.S. gasoline demand year-to-date is 5.6 percent below a year earlier, according to MasterCard Inc.’s SpendingPulse.
“The biggest issue out there is the jobs report, as well as concerns about the Chinese economy slowing down,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC in Houston. “There’s no doubt that gasoline demand continues to track lower than last year due to higher prices and consumers changing their habits.”
Gasoline for May delivery tumbled 4.38 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $3.2967 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement price since March 15. Stock exchanges and the Nymex were closed in New York and London on April 6 for Good Friday.
Chinese consumer prices rose 3.6 percent from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said today. That was more than the median 3.4 percent estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 33 economists.
The U.S. added 120,000 jobs last month, fewer than the 205,000 projected in a Bloomberg News survey. The unemployment rate fell to a three-year low of 8.2 percent, as people left the workforce. The participation rate, the share of working-age men and women with jobs or seeking employment, fell to 63.8 percent from 63.9 percent in February.
Gasoline has climbed 23 percent this year, making it the best performer in the Standard & Poor’s GSCI index of 24 commodities. Prices surged amid tensions over Iran’s nuclear program, refinery shutdowns and the Federal Reserve’s pledge to keep interest rates low until late 2014 to boost growth.
“The market took the jobs report negatively,” said Andrew Lebow, a senior vice president at Jefferies Bache LLC, a futures commission merchant in New York. ‘The market was way too long based on Middle East concerns and the belief there would be’’ a third round of quantitative easing by the Fed, he said.
Nuclear negotiations between Iran and the five permanent United Nations Security Council members plus Germany will take place starting April 14 in Istanbul, European Union spokesman Michael Mann said yesterday.
Hedge funds increased bullish gasoline bets, or net long positions, by 5,600, or 6.3 percent, to 94,139 contracts in the seven days ended April 3, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Commitments of Traders report on April 6.
Regular gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, fell 0.2 cent to $3.927 a gallon, according to AAA, the nation’s biggest motoring club. Prices have risen 20 percent this year and are 4.7 percent above a year earlier.
May-delivery heating oil fell 2.33 cents, or 0.7 percent, to settle at $3.1459 a gallon on the Nymex, the third loss in four sessions. Prices have gained 7.2 percent this year.
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