15 March 2004 00:01 [Source: ACN]
Benzene: Prices for March cargoes rose to US$550/tonne fob Korea, US$47/tonne fob Korea up on the previous week, on strengthening US values. Offers for April cargoes rose to US$565/tonne fob Korea. But buying ideas were no higher than US$540/tonne fob Korea, as styrene players were unclear about the market direction.
US benzene prices rose to US$2.15/gal fob USGC, up by US$0.15/gal from the previous week, on high crude.
Toluene: Markets were bearish, in contrast to the upward trend in benzene prices. Two South Korean producers were reported to have sold cargoes at US$470-480/tonne fob Korea. Offers were at US$490/tonne fob Korea, with buying indications at US$475/tonne fob Korea.
Mixed xylenes: A deal for a 3000-5000 tonne cargo was reported concluded at US$490/tonne fob Korea, US$15/tonne tonne lower than previous business transacted several weeks earlier. A 2000-tonne consignment was sold by a South Korean supplier at US$480/tonne fob Korea. And a 1000-tonne cargo was sold by a second South Korean supplier at US$480-490/tonne fob Korea.
However, prices were expected to strengthen this week on strong benzene and paraxylene markets.
Styrene: Market sentiment was upbeat on higher benzene numbers. Two or three 2000-tonne styrene cargoes were sold at US$780-790/tonne fob Korea in intra-trader deals, US$10/tonne higher than the previous week.
But players were unclear about which way markets would go in the coming weeks, as customer interest was lacklustre in China. Most Chinese end-users were adopting a wait-and-see approach, as polystyrene prices were falling (see page 23). Chinese expandable PS (EPS) players in particular said they were experiencing a margins squeeze, with EPS domestic prices at Rmb8300/tonne delivered, and styrene prices at Rmb7800-7900/tonne delivered.
Supply continued to be tight ahead of turnarounds in Japan. There were rumours that some US and European players were moving cargoes to Asia, but these could not be confirmed as ACN went to press.
Paraxylene: Prices were stable due to strong demand from purified terephthalic acid players. Two deals were reported at US$700-710/tonne fob Korea, the same as previous business. A Japanese producer was expected to announce its contract nomination for April by the end of last week, having settled its March business at US$720/tonne cfr Asia.
Market players were concerned that prices may come under pressure if polyester producers in China cut back operating rates due to high feedstock costs.
Orthoxylene: Deals were reported at US$650/tonne fob Korea and US$640/tonne fob SEA, US$50/tonne and US$60/tonne lower, respectively, than the last concluded deals in February. Hardly any cargoes were available, but that did not strengthen prices, as buying sentiment was weak, with phthalic anhydride players reducing operating rates (ACN 8 March 2004).
Phenol: No business was reported due to shortage of cargoes. Not even offers or bids were heard.
About 5000-10 000 tonne of deep-sea material was due to arrive in China by the end of March or early April, traders said. But this would be far from sufficient to meet the growing demand in China, which earlier used to import up to 30 000 tonne/month from the US and Europe. European and US markets are currently short of material due to plant problems.
The deep-sea fixtures were settled at US$850/tonne cfr China, US$150/tonne higher than previous business concluded several weeks earlier.
BULK CHEMICAL SPOT PRICES, US$/TONNE
|Asia/Pacific spot||US/Euro contracts|
|NE Asia (1)||S Asia and SE Asia (2)||US (3)||NWE (4)|
|Benzene||550||500 fob SEA (6)||592 Feb||416 Q1/450 Mar|
|Toluene||470-480||530-545 fob SEA (6)||na||333 Q4|
|Xylenes (5)||490||510 fob SEA (6)||473-479 Jan||na|
|Styrene||780-790||680-690 (6)||1055-1100 Jan||716.5-741.5 Q1|
|Paraxylene||700-710||650 cfr India (6)||634 Jan||590 Mar|
|Orthoxylene||750||640 fob SEA||562 Jan||445 Q1|
|Phenol||850 cfr China||900 (6)||771.62-859.80 Q4||889-929 Feb|
|(1) prices are fob Korea unless otherwise indicated (2) prices are cfr SEA unless otherwise indicated (3) US prices are contract levels in US$/tonne on an fob basis, courtesy of ECN, unless otherwise stated (4) European free–delivered contract prices in Euro/tonne unless otherwise stated (5) isomer–grade (6) no recent confirmed deals na = not available||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. 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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