Toluene and mixed xylene prices set records on US Gulf

25 August 2004 23:09  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (CNI)--US toluene offers rose to $2.66/gal FOB and mixed xylenes (MX) $2.43/gal FOB on the US Gulf Coast Wednesday.


On Tuesday, nitration-grade toluene traded at a high of $2.62/gal while MX business peaked at $2.42/gal, with MX numbers rising 6.5 cent/gal during the day.


Market sources attributed the price spikes to elevated Asian demand for toluene and to a price correction for MX.


One analyst said that historically, MX seldom trades more than 10 cent/gal below toluene, but in recent weeks MX prices had been about 20 cent/gal under toluene, leaving room for an upward correction.


In a similar scenario, toluene spot prices had been bolstered by benzene hikes.  Historically, a benzene/toluene price spread of 30 cent/gal would have been considered large, but recently benzene had been valued more than $1.30/gal over toluene.  This resulted in stronger demand draw for toluene, which is used as feedstock for benzene production in toluene disproportionation (TDPs) units.


US market sources attributed the strong aromatics prices to supply/demand pressures.  Unplanned outages in Asia and Europe have opened arbitrage to those regions while US aromatics prices have been disconnected from energy price influences.

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