A good year, but some bumps ahead for US refiners

Refiners are likely to have another good year in 2004, but there are some bumps in the road ahead.The first bump looms in the second quarter, when margins typically decline in the so-called "shoulder months" between the heating and driving seasons.Margins are expected to thrive in the next few weeks, as a number of refineries undergo turnarounds in March, notes Jacques Rousseau, senior vice-president with Friedman Billings Ramsey Group Inc., Arlington, Va. That bodes well for refiners' earnings, as margins in recent weeks have exceeded most expectations.Shoulder dipHowever, as supply rises again after turnarounds end and demand declines beginning in April, the first of the shoulder mo...

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