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NEW DELHI: Asia’s naphtha crack slumped on Wednesday, dropping for a third straight day, and the inter-month spread between first-half February and March narrowed in backwardation to $7.50, after data showed Middle-Eastern inventories jumped last week.

The crack plunged to $138.33 a tonne, lowest since Oct. 7, from $152.63. Naphtha margins have shed nearly 16 percent this week.

In a bearish signal to markets, stocks of light distillates at Fujairah Oil Industry Zone, including gasoline and naphtha, climbed 9percent, or 410,000 barrels, to 4.751 million barrels in the week ended Jan. 3, according to industry information service S&P Global Platts.

The gasoline crack also eased as market players weighed the impact of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 on fuel demand in the region.

More evidence is emerging that the Omicron variant is affecting the upper respiratory tract, causing milder symptoms than previous variants, a World Health Organization official said on Tuesday. Oil prices slipped below $80 a barrel after OPEC+ producers stuck to an agreed output target rise for February and investors assessed the impact of a spike in COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant.

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