Feb US benzene spot prices drop below $2.90/gallon

07 February 2006 19:10  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US benzene spot business was done at $2.85/gallon ($848 or Euro708/tonne) delivered duty paid (DDP) Houston-Texas City (HTC) on Tuesday morning, down 5-7 cents/gallon from late Monday on lower European benzene spot numbers and weaker crude oil, US Gulf aromatics traders said.

Tuesday morning’s price drop was nearly identical to the $20/tonne net decrease in European benzene spot prices earlier in the day.

Crude oil prices also caused US benzene prices to fall. March New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex) crude oil futures prices reached an intra-day low of $63.50/bbl, down $1.61/bbl from the Monday settlement. Crude prices were lower on Tuesday in response to inventory build forecasts.

The drop in US benzene numbers kept the arbitrage window from Asia to the US Gulf temporarily closed, BTX traders said. The bid/offer for second half February/first half March Asian benzene spot barrels was indicated at $780-795/tonne free on board (FOB) Korea, according to global petrochemical pricing and marketing intelligence service ICIS-LOR.

The US February benzene deal of $2.85/gallon DDP HTC equated to $853/tonne DDP HTC, $58-73/tonne above the Asian bid/offer range. Even if the spread between US Gulf and Asian benzene spot prices was wider, vessel space along the Asia Pacific-US Gulf route was tight, shipping brokers said.

Shipping brokers said the next available loading dates for Asia Pacific-USG would be late March. Freight rates were being talked in the upper $70s/tonne to upper $80s/tonne, above the average $65/tonne spread between US Gulf and Asian benzene spot prices.

By: Aaron Goetze
+1 713 525 2653

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