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Oil Climbs, Gasoline Gains on East Coast Refinery Problems

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NEW YORK, Aug 23 (Reuters) - A rise in gasoline futures helped pull oil prices higher on Friday following news of a unit shutdown at a Canadian East Coast refinery.

While the trading volume for the Brent crude contract was higher, gains on the U.S. futures contract outpaced those for the international benchmark. Brent's premium to WTI narrowed to $4.16 a barrel during the session, after a $3 per barrel spike earlier this week that sent the spread to $6 for the first time since late June.

Brent and U.S. crude found early support from positive U.S. manufacturing data and disruptions of Libyan exports. A short flurry of activity saw volume spike and crude prices jump 80 cents between 10:35 a.m. EDT (1435 GMT) and 10:37 a.m.

Market watchers tied the sudden move to weakness in the dollar after the U.S. Commerce Department reported a bigger-than-expected decline in U.S. new home sales to the lowest in nine months. CME Group said there was nothing unusual or irregular about the trades.

Gasoline prices shot up after energy intelligence provider Genscape reported the shutdown of a 70,000 barrel per day (bpd) fluid catalytic cracking unit at Irving Oil's 300,000 bpd Saint John refinery in New Brunswick.

Irving confirmed the unit had been shut for unplanned maintenance, and trade sources said it could be down for a week.

Further support for gasoline came from news of another shutdown of Monroe Energy's gasoline-making catalytic cracking unit at its 185,000 bpd Trainer, Pennsylvania refinery. The company said later on Friday that the unit will back online within the next 24 to 48 hours.


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