Near-term outlook grim for refiners

Refiners are a grim lot these days, and with good reason: It's a low-margin business to begin with, and the near-term outlook is for those margins to stay shrunken.Refiners recently have been hit with a triple whammy: high oil prices, overabundant product stocks, and depressed products demand. Independent refiners are getting the worst of it because, unlike their integrated brethren, they can't enjoy the offsetting benefits of high crude prices.Paul Cheng, with Lehman Bros. Inc., New York City, early this month trimmed his forecast for refining margins for the full year across the board. He pegged gross margins for the US Northeast at -$0.17/bbl, a plunge of 289% from his earlier ...

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