LONDON, July 5 (Reuters) - Benchmark northwest European gasoline refining margins fell on Thursday, though a larger than expected fall in U.S. inventories capped losses.
* U.S gasoline stocks fell by 1.5 million barrels last week, against expectations in a Reuters poll for a 817,000-barrel drop.
* Gasoline stocks independently held in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp refining and storage hub fell more than 5 percent to about 0.99 million tonnes in the week to Thursday, data from Dutch consultancy PJK International showed.
* Higher exports on transatlantic routes helped to push stock levels lower, said PJK’s Lars van Wageningen.
* The arbitrage from Europe to the U.S. East Coast is open. Exports from the region rose in recent days and are expected to reach about 1.2 million tonnes in July, traders said.
* More than 330,000 tonnes have been booked on nine vessels so far this week, according to shipping data and traders.
* Several cargoes were also booked to the Middle East.
* High crude oil prices and ample gasoline supplies are depressing Asia’s refining margins for petrol, now languishing around two-year lows with few signs of improvement.
* No barges of Eurobob gasoline traded in the afternoon window. A bid emerged at $718 a tonne fob ARA.
* Elsewhere, 14,000 tonnes of Eurobob gasoline traded in a range of $712-$715 a tonne fob Amsterdam-Rotterdam, compared with trades at $717-$717.50 the previous day. Total and Gunvor sold to Shell, Finco, Vitol and Mabanaft.
* There were no deals on barges of premium unleaded gasoline. A bid emerged at $730 a tonne fob ARA.
* The August swap stood at $719 a tonne at the close, up from $717 on Wednesday.
* The benchmark EBOB gasoline refining margin dipped to $7.85 a barrel, from $8.47.
* Brent crude futures were up 6 cents at $78.30 a barrel by 1551 GMT.
* U.S. front-month RBOB gasoline futures were up 1.35 percent at $2.1461 a gallon.
* The U.S. RBOB refining margin RBc1-CLc1 was up 12.23 percent at $16.61 a barrel.
* There were no trades. (Reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar Editing by David Goodman )