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NEW DELHI: Asia's naphtha crack plunged on Friday, but remained strong near recent highs due to seasonal demand from petrochemical units.

The crack dropped to $167.30 a tonne from $172.50 on Wednesday. Singapore markets were closed for a public holiday on Thursday.

Middle East weekly naphtha exports declined for a fourth consecutive week and were below the 800,000 metric tonne mark for the first time in the last sixteen weeks, according to assessments by Refinitiv Oil Research.

"Naphtha crack remained supported as demand from petrochemical producers remains strong on positive olefins margins," said Mohammed Yasser, an analyst at Refinitiv Oil Research.

The gasoline crack in the region inched higher as European inventories dropped. Gasoline margins have more than doubled since September on the back on robust demand with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. The refining profit margins were assessed at $14.34 a barrel from $14.30 in the last session.

Gasoline stocks held in independent storage in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) refining and storage area dropped by 5.5% in the week to Thursday, data from Dutch consultancy Insights Global showed.

Oil prices rose above $81 a barrel on Friday after OPEC+ producers rebuffed a US call to raise supply to cool the market, sticking to plans for a gradual increase in output after cuts made in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

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