Gasoline retreated from a 15-week high as an increase in U.S. jobless claims and a drop in housing starts increased concern that economic growth may slow, reducing fuel demand.
Futures sank as the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits climbed by 2,000 to 366,000 in the week ended Aug. 11, the Labor Department said. Construction of new homes sank 1.1 percent in July, Commerce Department data show. Gasoline demand typically declines after the Labor Day holiday, which falls this year on Sept. 3. Emissions specifications in fuel will loosen after the summer, expanding available supply.
“The economy continues growing in fits and starts,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC in Houston. “This is the last of the summer-grade gasoline and, as we move past September, it will be less expensive to produce winter grade.”
September-delivery gasoline fell 2.77 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $3.0563 a gallon at 10:03 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. October gasoline sank 1.43 cents to $2.8739.
Futures gained 2.8 percent yesterday as the department reported gasoline supplies dropped 2.37 million barrels to 203.7 million, the lowest level since the week ended June 15 and the lowest for this time of the year since 2008. Wholesale demand jumped to a 13-month high.
“The market was driven higher yesterday by a drawdown in gasoline supplies and some of those concerns may be easing off a little bit,” said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.
Heating oil for September delivery slipped 0.59 cent to $3.0793 a gallon on the exchange.
Regular gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, rose 0.1 cent to $3.71 a gallon yesterday, AAA data showed. That’s the highest level since May 17. Prices have climbed 38.4 cents since July 1, according to data from the nation’s largest motoring organization.
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