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General Interest—Quick TakesUS refining outlook less positive for early 2005The US refining sector's profit margins and stock prices are apt to see downward pressure in early 2005 because of strong supply levels and lower demand growth, said investment banker Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co. Inc., Arlington, Va.FBR analyst Jacques Rousseau reported that he sees refining fundamentals for the first quarter as less positive than they were in the first quarters of 2003 and 2004."Given the poor refining industry fundamentals throughout 2002, refiners voluntarily reduced their production levels in first quarter 2003 (utilization rates averaged only 87% during this period vs. a histori...

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