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SINGAPORE: Asian jet fuel refining margins held at their strongest levels in more than a month on Wednesday, buoyed by hopes of further aviation demand recovery in the coming months.

Refining margins, also known as cracks, for jet fuel remained unchanged at $12.17 per barrel over Dubai crude during Asian trading hours, the highest level since Nov. 10.

The jet fuel cracks were likely weighed by concerns over the Omicron coronavirus variant last month, but have gained 41% over the last two weeks as traders expect the new variant would not substantially derail upcoming demand.

Global airline capacity for December stood at 363 million seats, after falling 3.1 million seats in the week to Monday, according to aviation data firm OAG.

“This continues the trend of recent weeks and there is no discernable reduction globally yet to account for any potential impact from the Omicron variant,” OAG said in a statement.

“It would seem that it is still too soon to say how airlines might adapt schedules in response to the new variant and a new wave of national travel restrictions.”

Cash premiums for jet fuel rose 5 cents on Wednesday to 55 cents per barrel to Singapore quotes, a level last seen in May 2018. The differentials have climbed nearly 90% in the last month.

Middle-distillate inventories in the Fujairah Oil Industry Zone dropped 2.2% to 2.3 million barrels in the week ended Dec. 13, data via S&P Global Platts showed.

The weekly stocks in Fujairah have averaged 3.6 million barrels this year, compared with 4.2 million barrels in 2020, Reuters calculations showed.

US distillate inventories, which include diesel and heating oil, fell by 1 million barrels for the week ended Dec. 10, according to market sources, citing American Petroleum Institute figures.

Vietnam’s Nghi Son Refinery & Petrochemical (NSRP) has offered 30,000 tonnes of 50 ppm diesel for Dec. 20-31 loading, in a tender closing on Dec. 16. No jet fuel trades, no gasoil deals.

China’s daily crude oil throughput rebounded again in November as state refiners ramped up output to plug a diesel shortage and independent refiners also raised production on healthy margins, data showed on Wednesday.

Oil prices fell for a third day straight on Wednesday on growing expectations that supply growth will outpace demand growth next year, even though the Omicron coronavirus variant is not seen curbing mobility as sharply as earlier COVID-19 variants.

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