Europe Gasoline/Naphtha-Cracks firm despite falling U.S. demand

Wed Jan 9, 2013 1:42pm EST

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LONDON, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Naphtha and gasoline cracks firmed
slightly on Wednesday following crude's downward movement as
fundamentals indicated a weaker market.
    Demand for gasoline from the U.S. is expected to ease a bit
after stocks soared on the week, according to the U.S. Energy
Information Administration (EIA). 
    European cargoes had been heading across the Atlantic in the
last few weeks to make up for works on major U.S. refiners, but
demand has fallen this week, traders noted. 
    Some cargoes of naphtha also recently moved across the
Atlantic with the open arbitrage, one trader said, but the
market has shifted eyes to Asia to clear an overhang of unsold
cargoes.
    "The main focus now is arbing barrels East from the
Mediterranean," the trader said. 
    U.S. crude oil inventories rose last week as forecast, while
gasoline and distillate stocks soared far more than expected in
spite of a drop in refinery rates, according to EIA data.
 
    Gasoline inventories leaped 7.4 million barrels, against
forecasts for a build of 2.3 million barrels, the EIA report
showed. 
        
    GASOLINE 
    * No barges of benchmark Eurobob traded in the window.
Tuesday's deals were done at $978 a tonne fob ARA.
    * Some 8,000 tonnes traded ahead of the window at $979-$981
a tonne fob ARA, slightly lower than deals at $983 a tonne on
Tuesday. 
    * Chevron, Statoil and Total sold to Trafigura and Gunvor.
The earliest trade came at a premium to the February swap of
about $1.50-$3.00 a tonne, lower than Tuesday at $5 a tonne. 
    * One barge premium unleaded gasoline traded at $1,010 a
tonne fob ARA, up from deals at $998-$1,003 a tonne in the
previous session. Argos sold to Total.
    * In Northwest Europe, Gunvor sold a cargo to Greenergy at
$1,007 a tonne cif NWE.
    * In the Mediterranean, BP sold a cargo to Trafigura at
$1,010 a tonne cif Med. ERG also offered a cargo down to $1,0212
a tonne cif Med. 
    * At 1724 GMT, Brent crude oil futures were down 57
cents at $111.37 a barrel. 
    * Eurobob's crack to dated Brent was at around $3.52
a barrel, up from $3.23 a barrel on Tuesday.
    * February U.S. RBOB gasoline futures were up 0.47
percent at $2.7904 a gallon.
    * RBOB's crack to U.S. crude oil futures was
trading at around $24.11 a barrel, up from $23.27 a barrel
around the same time on Monday.
         
    NAPHTHA 
    * Two naphtha cargoes traded $932 a tonne cif Northwest
Europe. Vitol and Dow sold to Statoil and Trafigura. The level
was down slighlty from Wednesday's deal at $934 a tonne cif NWE.
    * The prompt naphtha crack was at about minus $6.75 a
barrel, up from minus $7.04 a barrel.
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