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NEW DELHI: Asia's naphtha refining profit margin gained on Monday after crude oil prices softened over China's release of gasoline and diesel reserves. The crack rose to $167.85 a tonne, strongest since July 2014, from $166.45 on Friday. The prompt inter-month spread widened in backwardation by $1.

Naphtha margins have risen 26% last month amid strong seasonal demand from petrochemicals. The gasoline crack in the region also rose buoyed by a rise in consumption in India and Indonesia amid tight supplies from China.

The refining profit margin for gasoline rose to $15.98 a barrel from $14.65 in the last session. In physical markets, Trafigura purchased a cargo of the benchmark 92 octane gasoline. India's gasoline sales rose by 3.93% from a year earlier to 2.48 million tonnes, preliminary sales data of state fuel retailers showed.

Meanwhile, China said on weekend that it would tap its state fuel reserve while national refiners ramp up output sharply to avert a diesel shortage in the world's second-largest oil user.

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