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UPDATE 2-Refiner Phillips 66 posts wider-than-expected loss on pandemic hit

(Compares with estimates, adds background on fuel consumption, details from the results)

Jan 29 (Reuters) - Phillips 66 reported a wider-than-expected loss on Friday, as rising oil prices and lower fuel demand hit the U.S. refiner’s marketing and specialties business.

While crude prices rallied more than 20% in the last quarter, driven by optimism over the development of COVID-19 vaccines, refiners struggled with uneven demand for fuel and related products as fresh lockdowns due to a resurgence in COVID-19 infections threatened that recovery.

Consumption of liquid fuels globally is estimated to have fallen by 9 million barrels per day in 2020, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration. Data also shows that travel on U.S. roads also fell 11% in November from the year-ago period, after a 9% drop in October.

Like rival Valero, Phillips 66 also expects COVID-19 vaccination efforts to boost economic recovery.

Phillips 66 said realized marketing fuel margins declined 38.6% in the fourth quarter to $1.37 per barrel in the United States, and were down 19.3% at $5.07 per barrel internationally, on a sequential basis.

The Marketing and Specialties segment sells gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel through various outlets.

Refined product exports in the reported quarter also fell to 103,000 barrels per day (bpd) from prior quarter’s 139,000 bpd.

The company reported adjusted net loss of $507 million, or $1.16 per share, up from $1 million, or 1 cent per share, in the third quarter.

Analysts were expecting a loss of $1.06 per share, according to Refinitiv IBES. (Reporting by Arunima Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

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