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Asia middle distillates: Key market indicators this week

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Asia middle distillates: Key market indicators this week

Singapore — The Asian middle distillates market is poised to conclude the last week of January on a stable-to-weaker footing. While seasonal heating oil requirement from the key Japan market is helping to pillar support in the jet fuel/kerosene complex, looming demand concerns amid rising coronavirus infections continue to weigh on sentiment.

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Meanwhile, trade sources see little change in the gasoil market as healthy regional demand is offset by an influx of surplus barrels from the Middle East and India due to unviable East-West arbitrage economics.

ICE March Brent crude futures dipped 7 cents/b to $55.25/b at 0300 GMT Jan. 25, from the 0430 GMT Asian close on Jan. 22 at $55.32/b.

JET FUEL/KEROSENE

** The front-month February-March jet fuel/kerosene timespread remained in contango and was pegged at minus 31 cents/b at 0300 GMT Jan. 25, widening 1 cent/b from the 0830 GMT Asian close Jan. 22.

** The FOB Singapore jet fuel/kerosene cash differential was stable week on week amid mixed indicators, and was assessed at minus 21 cents/b to the Mean of Platts Singapore jet fuel/kerosene assessments on Jan. 22, which is unchanged week on week.

** In Japan, kerosene stocks dropped 5.4% to 13.49 million barrels in the week of Jan. 16, the Petroleum Association of Japan reported on Jan. 20, amid ongoing strong heating demand in the country.

** That said, extended travel restrictions and flight bans continue to weigh on the aviation sector and prices, industry sources said Jan. 25. In Japan, the number of domestic flights declined 36%, while international travel is down 74% from pre-crisis norms, according to AirNav Radar Box.

** The Q2-Q3 quarterly jet fuel/kerosene swap spread -- an indication of near-term sentiment -- averaged minus 45 cents/b for the week of Jan. 18-22, rising 1 cent/b, from the previous week's average of minus 46 cents/b.

GASOIL

** The February-March gasoil market structure was pegged at minus 16 cents/b at 0300 GMT, widening 1 cent/b from minus 15 cents/b at the Asian close on Jan. 22, Platts data showed.

** The February Exchange of Futures for Swaps spread was pegged at minus 25 cents/mt at 0300 GMT Jan. 25, narrowing from an assessed minus 53 cents/mt at the Jan. 22 close.

** Asian market participants said the stability seen in the gasoil complex over the past few weeks may continue this week, with healthy volumes of gasoil inflows from the Middle East and India to Singapore. Industry sources said these inflows have been helping to meet pockets of regional demand and filling the gaps left by refinery closures as well as discretionary run cuts still in place.

**The flows of India and Middle East-origin gasoil toward Singapore has been spurred by a narrowing of the EFS spread, which has been underpinned by persistently poor demand due to coronavirus restrictions in the European ultra-low sulfur diesel market, which has led to high stockpiles. Diesel and gasoil inventories in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp hub grew 6.1% to 2.667 million mt in the week to Jan. 20, Insights Global data showed. The latest build has left stocks sitting 11.5% higher than the same period a year ago.

** The Q2-Q3 quarterly gasoil swap spread -- an indication of near-term sentiment -- averaged at minus 10 cents/b for the week of Jan. 18-22, inching 1 cent/b higher, from the previous week's average of minus 11 cents/b.