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Prompt NYH ethanol barge premium reaches one-year high, spot market strengthens

The prompt premium for the New York Harbor ethanol barge market over the benchmark Chicago Argo market strengthened to one-year high as rail delays supported prices, sources said Wednesday.

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S&P Global Platts assessed January New York Harbor ethanol barges at $1.45/gal Tuesday, 14 cents above the physical Argo ethanol value and the largest premium since January 3, 2017, when it was 17.25 cents. The time the outright New York Harbor physical price was higher was on December 5, when it was assessed at $1.4575/gal.

January New York Harbor barges often trade at a premium to the corresponding month's Chicago CU ethanol swap, and that premium was 12.50 cents Tuesday, up from 10.75 cents on Friday.

Cold weather across the US has resulted in delays to trains being delivered into New York Harbor, sources said.

"Freezing [temperatures are] causing delays in delivery," a source said.

Market participants added that nominations for barge loading in January had occurred at the beginning of the month, which was adding to the prompt tightness.

The February New York Harbor barge market premium to the February Chicago CU swap rose only 0.25 cent to 8.25 cents Tuesday, suggesting that any tightness in the region should be short-lived.

The Weekly Petroleum Status report from the US Energy Information Administration is expected to be released Thursday after being delayed a day due to the New Year's Day holiday and will give the market some direction, particularly around stock levels and production.

The report for the week that ended December 22 showed a 13,000 barrel stock decrease on the East Coast to 6,914,000 barrels, although that is 517,000 above the year-ago period's level.

"There is plenty of ethanol in this country right now," a US ethanol trader said.

--Sophie Byron,

--Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh,