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Asia middle distillates: Key market indicators this week

Singapore — The Asian middle distillates market is set to enter the week of Feb. 22 amid cautious fundamentals as traders find their way forward. The jet fuel/kerosene complex continues to suffer from weakened demand in the downstream aviation sector, although it did see some support in the week ended Feb. 20 from prompt US demand after a winter storm there shut down much output.

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The sentiment in the gasoil market was likewise dictated by US weather developments for much of last week, with a boost in demand there resulting in increased arbitrage flows to the West.

ICE April Brent crude futures rose 62 cents/b at $63.53/b at 0305 GMT Feb. 22 from the 0830 GMT Asian close on Feb. 19.

Jet fuel/kerosene

** The March-April jet fuel/kerosene time spread was pegged at minus 17 cents/b at 0300 GMT Feb. 22, narrowing marginally from minus 18 cents/b at 0830 GMT Asian close Feb. 19.

** The FOB Singapore jet fuel/kerosene cash differential was seen declining week on week as tepid air travel demand continue to bear down on the aviation sector. The differential was assessed at minus 32 cents/b to the Mean of Platts Singapore jet fuel/kerosene assessments on Feb. 19, falling 21 cents/b from the beginning of the week..

** In Japan, kerosene stocks dropped 7% week on week at 10.88 million barrels as of Feb. 13, the Petroleum Association of Japan said Feb. 17, as cold spells boost heating demand in the country. This also represented a 3.9% dip from a year ago, according to S&P Global Platts data.

** Singapore's jet fuel exports jumped 53.7% week on week at 51,925 mt Feb. 11-17. Industry sources reiterated that passenger flight operations remained disrupted by travel curbs and strict border controls.

** The Q2-Q3 quarterly jet fuel/kerosene swap spread -- an indication of near-term sentiment -- averaged plus 4 cents/b for the week of Feb. 15-19, up 27 cents/b from the previous week's average of minus 23 cents/b.

Gasoil

** The March-April gasoil market structure was pegged at plus 16 cents/b at 0300 GMT Feb. 22, down slightly from plus 17 cents/b at the Asian close on Feb. 19, Platts data showed.

** The March Exchange of Futures for Swaps spread was pegged at minus $3.62/mt at 0300 GMT Feb. 22, widening from an assessed minus $3.57/mt at the Feb. 19 close.

** Following volatile market activity in the week ended Feb. 20 brought on by the severe ice storm in the US, Asian gasoil traders were heard taking stock of regional supply balances. "There were a lot of barrels moving to the West because the EFS [Exchange of Futures for Swaps] came off a lot," a senior gasoil trader based in Singapore said. Other market participants echoed the same sentiment, saying that India and Persian Gulf-origin gasoil volumes into Asia were looking leaner for February compared with January.

** Going forward, traders were heard to be keeping a close watch on March gasoil inflows into the Asian region as well. Some sources said late Feb. 19 that March arrival volumes into Asia were being revised downward, with this having the potential to lend further price support to the Asian gasoil complex.

** The Q2-Q3 quarterly gasoil swap spread -- an indication of near-term sentiment -- averaged plus 61 cents/b for the week of Feb. 15-19, up 15 cents/b from the previous week's average of plus 46 cents/b.