U.S. Gulf Coast gasoline climbed to a two-week high as a Brazilian refinery shut for maintenance, signaling increased demand for U.S. fuel exports.
Conventional, 87-octane gasoline added 1.75 cents to a discount of 20.25 cents a gallon to New York Mercantile Exchange futures at 1:48 p.m, the strongest level since Nov. 25. Conventional, 85-octane gasoline, or CBOB, strengthened 1.25 cents to 23.5 cents a gallon below futures. Ultra-low-sulfur diesel held at a discount of 8.63 cents a gallon.
Differentials narrowed after Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4) shut its Repar refinery to repair damages from a fire in late November. The plant, which supplies about 10 percent of refined products to Brazil, is expected to be shut until Dec. 17, the company said in an e-mailed statement on Dec. 6.
The U.S. exported an average of 170,000 barrels a day of refined products to Brazil this year through September, compared with 157,000 barrels a day in the first nine months of 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration data.
The number of tankers chartered to carry fuel to Latin America from the U.S. Gulf almost doubled to 13 in the week ended Dec. 6, the highest level since September, according to data from Charles R. Weber Co., a shipbroker in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Cargo flows to Latin America improved over the last week and “demand should prove stronger during the upcoming week,” the company said in a weekly tanker report.
Gasoline also rallied as Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC:US), Valero Energy Corp. and Flint Hills Resources LLC reported emissions at refineries in Galveston Bay and Corpus Christi, Texas, signaling production may slip along the Gulf, the U.S. refining hub.
The three plants can process 871,000 barrels a day, or 9.6 percent of refining capacity in the region, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The 3-2-1 crack spread on the Gulf Coast, a rough measure of refining margins based on West Texas Intermediate oil in Cushing, Oklahoma, slipped $1.02 to $12.33 a barrel. The spread, based on Light Louisiana Sweet oil, the Gulf Coast benchmark, dropped 87 cents to $7.73 a barrel, the first decline in three days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
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