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NEW DELHI: Asia's naphtha crack climbed to the highest in over seven years on Friday, and posted a weekly gain on the back of firm seasonal demand from petrochemical units.

The crack climbed to $166.45 a tonne, the strongest since July 2014, from $160.38 in the last session. The margin has risen more than 7% this week, and nearly 26% overall in October.

Despite rising naphtha premiums, robust ethylene cracker and gasoline blending margins in Asia have pushed up naphtha demand, with arrivals into the region projected to reach the highest level seen since last June, according to consultancy Vortexa.

"Looking at the current trajectory, Asia could be bracing one of the tightest naphtha markets seen in years this quarter," Serena Huang, an analyst at Vortexa said in a report. Meanwhile, the gasoline crack in the region also posted a weekly gain amid firm consumption growth and tightening supplies.

The crack eased to $14.65 a barrel from $16.90 in the last session. The refining profit margin for gasoline has nearly doubled this month due to a rise in demand arising from easing of COVID-19 curbs in the region. Limited outflows from key exporters China and India amid stronger domestic requirements have been largely supportive of price benchmarks, Refinitiv Oil Research said in a report.

Gasoline stocks held in independent storage in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) refining and storage area rose by 17% to 905,000 tonnes in the week to Thursday, data from Dutch consultancy Insights Global showed. Naphtha stocks rose slightly to 251,000 tonnes last week from 247,000 tonnes in the prior week.

Oil rose further above $84 a barrel on Friday, within sight of a multi-year high hit this week, as expectations OPEC and its allies will keep supply tight countered rising US inventories and the prospect of more Iranian exports.

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