29 April 1996 00:00 [Source: ACN]
Japanese and South Korean plants are preparing for maintenance turnarounds in May-June, while buyers shun steep styrene offers
Benzene: Producers in NEA were hoping to achieve slightly higher prices as major turnarounds start in Japan and South Korea. Spot availability in Japan was reported to be low and producers have not announced the volume available for May shipments. Idemitsu Petrochemical started the 30-day turnaround of its 530 000 tonne/year facility at Chiba this month.
Seller ideas to China were US$250-260/tonne cfr China for late April to early May delivery. However, Chinese buyers have no requirements at this time. Enquiries from Hyundai for material to start its styrene plant in September were considered too early to result in any fixtures.
Toluene: Markets have slowed. NEA producers are building inventory ahead of May-June maintenance turnarounds.
South Korean producers were offering material at US$290/tonne fob. Some urgent spot enquires were reported from China. Most buyers there were holding out for prices below US$290/tonne cfr China. Japanese producers offered at US$290/tonne cfr China, but turnarounds were limiting spot availability. Honam Oil is faced with contamination in its toluene production. Spot material will not be available from the company until contaminated stock is sufficiently diluted, a company source said. However, the 260 000 tonne/year plant will begin its 20-day shutdown on 5 May.
Mixed xylenes: Spot business was slow, but showed signs of improvement. Market players are watching to see if price increases will be possible before major turnarounds start in June. Few requirements are left in China. Two 3000-tonne lots were sold to China at US$300/tonne cfr China for early May delivery. However, recent Chinese enquiries were at US$280-290/tonne cfr China.
Mobil Singapore was able to secure 3000 tonne for late April arrival at US$300/tonne cfr Singapore from a South Korean producer.
Indian Petrochemical Corp Ltd's tender for 5000 tonne in the first half of June will be open until 11 May.
Styrene: South Korean producers reduced offers further to US$600-620/tonne fob for April delivery. Seller ideas in Japan are still at US$700/tonne cfr NEA for April. However, South Korean producers are expected to raise offers to US$670-680/tonne fob for May shipments because of turnarounds.
Buyers in Taiwan and China declined South Korean offers. One sale for 2000 tonne to Taiwan was concluded at US$610/tonne cfr Taiwan for early May delivery.
Material in Japan was still tight after Idemitsu Petrochemical's Chiba plant and Mitsubishi Chemical's Yokkaichi plant finished turnarounds last week. Mitsubishi Chemical's 350 000 tonne/year plant in Kashima is not running at full capacity because of mechanical problems. Annual maintenance scheduled for the end of May could start early, sources said.
Paraxylene: Prices in NEA sank to US$450-470/tonne cfr NEA. A 2000-tonne cargo was sold to Samsung Petrochemical at US$450/tonne cfr Ulsan. Most offers were made by traders and few producers were willing to let go of material at that price. Producers have rejected bids from traders at US$470-510/tonne cfr NEA. Asian Q2 contracts were close to being settled, sources said. Contracts were expected to be settled at the flat US contract price (ACN 29 April p24).
Orthoxylene: Markets were reported to be firm, with prices at US$450/tonne cfr NEA. However, no actual spot business was confirmed. Producers were concerned the softening phthalic anhydride prices may hurt OX's recent recovery.
|Bulk chemical spot prices - US$/tonne|
|NE Asia1||SE Asia2||US3||NWE4|
|Benzene||270 cfr Taiwan5||277 cfr India5||0.90/gal||380|
|Toluene||295 cfr Taiwan5||235-240 fob Philippines5||0.80/gal||335 fob|
|Xylenes||300 cfr China||300 cfr Singapore||0.82/gal||N/A|
|Styrene||610 cfr Taiwan||520-540 cfr SEA5||0.28/lb Mar||950|
|Paraxylene||450 cfr Ulsan||625-640 cfr Thailand5||0.345/lb FD Q2||1125|
|Orthoxylene||435-450 cfr China5||350 cfr Indonesia5||0.155/lb Mar||505|
1Prices are fob Korea unless otherwise indicated
2Prices are cfr SEA unless otherwise indicated
3US prices are April contract levels on an fob basis unless otherwise indicated
4European FD Q2 contract price in DM/tonne, courtesy of ECN
5No known recent business
Prices contained in this report are obtained by the ACN team through consultation with producers, consumers and merchants in the regions indicated. They are a guide to price levels of recent business and reflect medium to large tonnage sales. Spot prices are quoted as indicated: cfr - cost and freight; fob - free on board; cif - cost, insurance and freight; FD - free delivered. Spot prices are based on information available mid-week prior to the date of issue. Dollar prices are based on prevailing rates of exchange.
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