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SINGAPORE: Asia’s naphtha refining margin extended losses on Thursday, falling to a near-two week low of $102.98 a tonne and widening a gap from a 13-month high of $116.03 at the start of the week, amid signs of plentiful prompt Western arbitrage supplies that will help satisfy firm Asian demand for the light distillate, trade sources said.

By contrast, the gasoline crack edged away from a near three-week low in the previous session after climbing 11 cents to $3.52 a barrel on Thursday.

Gasoline margins have come under renewed demand concerns as many countries imposed a fresh round of lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Singapore’s light distillate inventories slipped 1% to 15.488 million barrels in the week to Jan. 20, according to Enterprise Singapore data.

Compared to the same period last year, however, the light distillate inventories were 19% higher.

Weekly Singapore light distillate inventories have averaged 14.245 million barrels in 2020, Reuters calculations showed.

In the United States, analysts estimated that stockpiles of gasoline USOILG=ECI likely rose by 2.8 million barrels last week.

The EIA and API reports have been delayed due to the Martin Luther King Jr Day holiday in the United States on Monday and the inauguration of Joe Biden as US president on Wednesday.

China’s December gasoline output fell 4% from year ago levels to 11.711 million tonnes, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday.

China produced a total of 131.717 million tonnes of gasoline in 2020, down 7% from the year before, the data shoed, as refiners scaled back production as the coronavirus pandemic hit demand.

Naphtha production, however, climbed to 3.932 million tonne in December, up 11% from last year bringing total production of the fuel to 42.32 million tonnes n 2020 which was 6% higher from the pervious year, the data showed.