US refiners still banking on 2003 recovery

US refiners are clinging tenaciously to the notion that 2003 will continue to be a recovery year.After a surprising first quarter, in which the refining business rebounded strongly after a truly horrible year, all the elements are in place for robust margins for the rest of the year.The biggest threat to this rosy outlook would be a collapse in demand owing to price spikes—possibilities with both crude and gasoline.For now, however, the outlook is for record demand, tight stocks, somewhat moderating crude prices, and essentially full capacity utilization. That's a recipe for healthy margins and profits.First quarter turnaroundThe turnaround for the US refining industry started i...

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