08 January 2001 00:00 [Source: ACN]Asian sellers attempt to move toluene and benzene to the West
Benzene: The market opened the year on a sluggish note. Major Taiwanese buyers have covered their January requirement. Western traders were interested in shipping material to the US. Snug availability had pushed US spot prices to US$1.38/gal and January contracts were nominated at around US$1.37- 1.40/gal.
Producers were expecting US$360/tonne fob Korea. Around 10-15 000 tonne was heard sold to China by a South Korean trader at US$345-350/tonne fob Korea. Enquiries from Asian traders were at US$370/tonne cfr NEA, which was considered too low by producers.
Formosa Petrochemical Corp restarted its No1 aromatics complex in early January. The complex was shut in late November for annual maintenance.
Toluene: The pressure on prices showed no sign of abating. Business was concluded at as low as US$245/tonne, US$40/tonne below mid-December prices.
South Korean producers had yet to complete January sales. Firm offers were not forthcoming as producers claimed that buyers would only push for lower numbers. Buying ideas were heard at US$240/tonne fob Korea. South Korean producers were in talks to move material to the West (see p36).
Mixed xylenes: Isomer-grade prices had dropped by more than US$25/tonne in the two weeks before 3 January. A South Korean producer could obtain only US$295/tonne fob Korea for the 6000 tonne it sold to China. A major buyer bought 5000 tonne for arrival in January at US$290/tonne cfr NEA. The buyer was planning to resume purchases if prices fall to US$280- 285/tonne cfr NEA.
Solvent-grade material was on offer at US$260/tonne fob Korea but buying indications were lower by US$5-10/tonne.
Styrene: The gap in price ideas widened to US$40/tonne. South Korean producers were asking for US$570-600/tonne fob Korea, while limited Chinese enquiries were at US$580/tonne cfr China. Chinese domestic prices slipped to Rmb5700/tonne. US spot prices rose to 27-28cents/lb as operating problems with some producers tightened availability. US producers purchased 4000-6000 tonne at US$570/tonne fob Korea to meet contract commitments in this region.
SK Corp stopped production at its 300 000 tonne No2 plant on 13 December due to poor margins. The plant is likely to restart in mid-January as the company would like to build up inventory to meet the anticipated demand surge after the Chinese New Year.
Paraxylene: Selling expectations dropped by US$20/tonne to around US$410/tonne fob Korea. No firm offers were heard but one producer said this number was acceptable. An SEA buyer paid an average price of US$430/tonne cfr SEA to cover its January requirement. S-Oil lowered its operating rate to 85-90%. SK Corp was running its No2 plant at 70%.
Orthoxylene: A South Korean seller was willing to sell at US$410/tonne fob Korea but had received no enquiries. An SEA buyer was negotiating for a February arrival cargo at US$415/tonne cfr SEA. Offers were in the US$420-425/tonne cfr SEA range.
Indian phthalic anhydride producer IG Petrochemicals is contemplating raising its operating rate from 60% to 70%.
Phenol: Prices held steady. Offers from Taiwan were at US$570/tonne fob Taiwan without credit. A trader reported limited enquiries from buyers in Shanghai who were requesting US$580/tonne cfr China.
|Asia/Pacific spot||US/Euro contracts|
|NE Asia1||SE Asia2||US3||NWE4|
|Benzene||345-350||400 fob SEA7||1.30/gal||470|
|Orthoxylene||395-400 fob Taiwan7||420-4357||21||510|
|Phenol||570 fob Taiwan||700-7207||38.5 Q4||1800-1870 Dec5|
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