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Gasoline, Heating Oil Rise After Report Shows Inventories Lag

Gasoline, Heating Oil Rise After Report Shows Inventories Lag New York, April 19 (Bloomberg) -- Gasoline and heating oil rose after an industry report showed U.S. refiners lost ground in efforts to build up supplies for motorists and farmers.

While imports of crude oil and refinery processing rates rose last week, U.S. gasoline inventories fell unexpectedly by 2.84 million barrels, or 1.4 percent, according to a weekly report from the American Petroleum Institute, issued late yesterday. Demand for the motor fuel was at its highest rate of the year.

``Gasoline production declined while demand increased, so the market is going to take that in a bullish light,'' said Andrew Lebow, senior vice president and broker with ED&F Man International Inc. in New York.

Gasoline for May delivery rose as much as 1.74 cents, or 2.1 percent, to 84.60 cents a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices are 58 percent higher than a year ago. The May heating oil contract rose as much as 4.37 cents, or 6.2 percent, to 75.15 cents a gallon, up 72 percent from year-ago levels.

The drop in supplies came as demand for gasoline, as derived from figures in the API report, rose 6.7 percent to 8.92 million barrels a day. Nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had expected a gain in gasoline supplies of between 500,000 barrels and 1.2 million barrels.

Citgo Petroleum Corp. said it restarted some units at its 304,000-barrel-a-day Lake Charles, Louisiana, refinery, which were idled yesterday by a power failure. The remaining units should be restarted within the next few days, the company said. The shutdown helped send prices higher yesterday.

Demand for distillate fuels, which include heating oil and diesel, has been rising as farmers fill their tractors and other machinery for spring planting.

Inventories of diesel fuel are at their lowest level since May 1997, according to API figures. Overall supplies of distillate fuels are at the lowest level since May 1996, after falling 2.68 million barrels last week to 94.86 million. Analysts expected a smaller decline.

Crude oil for May delivery rose as much as 49 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $26.60 a barrel on the Nymex. The contract expires today. The June contract was recently up 38 cents at $25.21.

In London, Brent crude oil for June delivery rose as much as 50 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $23.55 a barrel on the International Petroleum Exchange.

-- Carl Jenkins (, April 19, 2000

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