Gasoline, Oil Jump as Refineries in Path of Hurricane Evacuated

Gasoline and crude oil jumped as Hurricane Rita barreled toward the Texas coast, threatening refineries that were spared by Katrina last month. Texas is home to the biggest concentration of U.S. refineries, accounting for 26 percent of the nation's total capacity. BP Plc and Valero Energy Corp. are evacuating workers and slowing output at three Houston area refineries. Rita, a Category 4 storm, may hit the Texas coast on Sept. 24. Four refineries in Louisiana and Mississippi, representing 5 percent of U.S. capacity, remain shut because of Katrina.

Gasoline for October delivery surged 7.65 cents, or 3.9 percent, to $2.0531 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest close since Sept. 6. Gasoline futures reached $2.92 a gallon on Aug. 31, the highest since trading began in 1984. Futures are 59 percent higher than a year ago.

Crude oil for November delivery rose 60 cents, or 0.9 percent, to close at $66.80 a barrel in New York. Futures touched $68.27, the highest since Sept. 2. Oil has declined 5.7 percent since touching a record $70.85 a barrel on Aug. 30. Prices are 42 percent higher than a year ago, Bloomberg reports.

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