Gasoline Futures Gain With Memorial Day Driving Demand Higher

May 23, 2014 5:03 pm ET

May 23 (Bloomberg) -- Gasoline climbed to a three-week high as U.S. drivers were forecast to drive the most in nine years over Memorial Day weekend.

Futures rose 0.6 percent. AAA estimates that 31.8 million people will travel 50 miles or more by car this weekend, up from 31.4 million a year ago and the most since 2005. Memorial Day, which falls this year on May 26, marks the start of the summer driving season. Gasoline supplies were 213.4 million barrels in the week ended May 19, according to the Energy Information Administration, down from 220.7 million a year earlier.

“Gasoline is leading the way as we go into the holiday weekend with a gasoline demand forecast to be at the highest level in a number of years at the same time that inventories are about 3 percent lower than this time last year,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC in Houston.

June-delivery gasoline rose 1.77 cents to $3.0235 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settlement since April 29. Prices gained 1.7 percent this week.

“We’re seeing an increase in travel this year primarily due to an improved economy,” Michael Green, a spokesman for AAA in Washington, said by phone. “After talking to people, it also seems many people are just ready to travel after such a cold winter in many parts of country. There was pent-up demand with people stuck in their houses due to the very cold weather.”

Gasoline’s crack spread versus WTI widened 15 cents to $21.93 a barrel, based on July contracts. The premium to Brent climbed 58 cents to $15.74.

The average U.S. pump price rose 0.7 cent to $3.656 a gallon, according to data from Heathrow, Florida-based AAA.

Ultra low sulfur diesel for June delivery gained 0.42 cent to $2.9549 a gallon, and was up 0.13 cent this week.

The fuel’s crack spread versus WTI narrowed 41 cents to $19.76 a barrel, based on July contracts. The premium to Brent rose 2 cents to $13.57.