Gasoline fluctuated as Brent crude weakened versus West Texas Intermediate oil amid debate over a bailout for Cyprus, whose financial crisis threatens the euro- area economy.
Futures swung between gains and losses as Brent, the pricing basis for gasoline imports, narrowed its premium versus WTI to the lowest intraday level since January. Lawmakers in Cyprus are debating legislation to unlock bailout funds and avert a financial collapse. Gasoline was heading toward a second consecutive weekly loss.
“The situation in Cyprus is going to be the deciding factor in the market,” said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “The deadline is Monday. The market appears to be optimistic something will get done at the last minute.”
Gasoline for April delivery fell 0.28 cent to $3.0678 a gallon at 9:54 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Trading volume was 50 percent below the 100-day average for the time of day.
Futures have retreated 3 percent this week as Brent weakened against WTI. The European benchmark’s premium to WTI narrowed 47 cents to $14.55 a barrel.
The European Central Bank has threatened to withdraw funding from Cyprus’s banks if the government and the euro area don’t reach agreement on a bailout plan.
The May gasoline crack spread versus WTI narrowed 57 cents to $35.48 a barrel.
Heating oil for April delivery rose slipped 0.18 cent to $2.8945 a gallon on volume that was 40 percent below than the 100-day average for the time of day. Futures have declined 1.5 percent this week
Gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, fell 0.6 cent to $3.691 a gallon, AAA said today on its website. Prices have dropped 9.5 cents since reaching a 2013 high of $3.786 on Feb. 26 and are 19.5 cents below a year ago.
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