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SINGAPORE: Asia’s naphtha crack climbed on Friday, buoyed by steady petrochemicals demand and expectations for tighter near-term supplies.

The naphtha crack rose to $103.33 per tonne on Friday, up from $93.85 per tonne a day earlier. The crack, however, has shed 4.4% this week in a second straight weekly decline.

Asia’s gasoline crack edged higher to $5.77 per barrel on Friday, up from $5.57 per barrel in the previous session. The gasoline market is expected to find support in the coming months as upcoming seasonal refinery maintenance caps regional supplies, and COVID-19 vaccinations help ease mobility restrictions in several markets, boosting a demand recovery.

China’s gasoline exports rose 30.1% year-on-year in the first two months of 2021, customs data showed on Thursday, as refineries sought to ease domestic inventory pressure due to high output.

Gasoline shipments in January and February were at 3.54 million tonnes, up from 2.72 million tonnes in the same period last year, after the coronavirus outbreak and tough travel restrictions slammed fuel consumption in the country.

Gasoline stocks held independently in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) refining and storage hub slipped 1.6% to 1.4 million tonnes in the week to March 18, data from Dutch consultancy Insights Global showed.

The data showed ARA gasoil inventories dropped 2.4% to 2.36 million tonnes.

Three gasoline deals, no naphtha trades. Goldman Sachs said it sees the oil price pullback as a buying opportunity and forecasts Brent crude could reach $80 per barrel this summer even as the recent rally in prices “takes a big breather.”

Oil prices rose by more than $1 on Friday, after a big sell-off in the previous session as a new wave of coronavirus infections across Europe triggered fresh lockdowns and dampened expectations of any imminent recovery in fuel demand.