LONDON, July 19 (Reuters) - Benchmark northwest European gasoline refining margins rose slightly on Thursday despite a sharp rise in ARA stocks.
* Gasoline stocks independently held in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp refining and storage hub rose by over 10 percent in the week to Thursday, data from Dutch consultancy PJK International showed.
* The rise in stocks comes amid slower export activity to the U.S. East Coast and West Africa, PJK’s Lars van Wageningen said.
* U.S. gasoline stocks fell by 3.2 million barrels last week, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a drop of 44,000 barrels, U.S. Energy Information Administration data showed on Wednesday.
* Shell is continuing to restart its 140,000 barrel-per-day Wesseling oil refinery in Germany, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.
* No Eurobob barges traded in the afternoon trading window. There was one bid at $691 a tonne fob ARA.
* Elsewhere, three barges traded at $681.50-$686 a tonne fob Amsterdam-Rotterdam, compared with $675 a tonne on Wednesday. Total sold to BP and Shell, Van Raak sold to Finco.
* There were no deals on barges of premium unleaded gasoline.
* The August swap stood at $692.50 a tonne at the close, up from $681 a tonne.
* The benchmark Eurobob gasoline refining margin rose to $9.441 a barrel from $8.619 a barrel.
* Brent crude futures were up 38 cents at $73.28 a barrel at 1537 GMT.
* U.S. front-month RBOB gasoline futures were up 0.25 percent at $2.0491 a gallon.
* The U.S. RBOB refining margin RBc1-CLc1 was down 4.9 percent at $16.26 a barrel.
* No cargoes traded. (Reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar Editing by Edmund Blair and Alexandra Hudson)