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