Northwest European gasoline barge margins started the year on Thursday at around $3.40 a barrel, around $2 higher than at the start of last year, but high inventories loom in the region. ARA gasoline inventories rose 13% at a time when profitable export routes to the United States remain limited and exports to the Mediterranean and Caribbean fail to provide a strong draw, according to Insights Global.

ARA naphtha stocks jumped 15% on imports from Algeria, although demand up the Rhine was strong for petrochemical uses, for which naphtha can be a cheaper alternative to propane. France's hardline CGT trade union voted on Monday to extend a blockade of outbound fuel deliveries from Total's Grandpuits refinery near Paris until Jan. 6 as part of nationwide protests against a planned pensions reform.

China has raised the volumes of its first batch of 2020 fuel export quotas by 53% from a year earlier to 27.99 million tonnes, according to a document from the Ministry of Commerce that was reviewed by Reuters. Oil prices are likely to hover around $63 a barrel next year, a Reuters poll showed, benefiting from deeper output cuts by OPEC and its allies, and hopes that a US-China trade deal could jumpstart economic growth.

Copyright Reuters, 2020