February 12th, 2013

Gasoline futures advanced in early trading as crude climbed after OPEC forecast stronger fuel demand in emerging economies. Calendar spreads weakened.

Gasoline futures for March delivery rose as much as 0.8 percent. West Texas Intermediate oil gained 0.5 percent. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries raised its global oil demand estimate by 80,000 barrels a day from last month’s report. The March contract’s discount to April increased to the widest contango since Feb. 29.

“The OPEC report marked demand up, and overall that’s been constructive to energy markets,” said Andrew Lebow, a senior vice president at Jefferies Bache LLC in New York. “That’s been the backbone of this particular rally.”

Gasoline futures for March delivery rose 0.53 cent to $3.0265 a gallon at 10:15 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, on volume was 5.4 percent above the 100-day average.

The gap between March futures, which represent winter-grade gasoline, and April’s contract for summer-grade fuel, increased 0.59 cent to 21 cents a gallon.

March-delivery heating oil fell 0.81 cent, or 0.3 percent, to $3.2234 a gallon on the Nymex on volume 4.1 percent below the 100-day average for that time of day.

Gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, rose 1.7 cents to $3.604 a gallon, AAA said on its website today. Prices have climbed 9.5 percent since the beginning of 2013.

- Dan Murtaugh in Houston at Bloomberg.