27 February 2006 00:00 [Source: ICB Americas]
Rising crude oil costs helped push spot benzene prices into the high $2.80s per gallon range. Earlier in the month, spot benzene prices in the US felt the impact of rising benzene prices in both Europe and Asia. March toluene prices were talked about in the $2.33 to $2.37 per gallon range, while April prices were noted above $2.35 per gallon and May prices were mentioned in the $2.40 to $2.45 per gallon range. Despite the volatility of benzene and toluene pricing, mixed xylene prices were holding steady in the low $2.30s per gallon range.
Ethylene glycol prices continue to slump following the resumption of business after the Chinese New Year. Spot prices remain below $850 per ton despite March contract nominations of $890 per ton by the three leading producers. The March nomination is a $20 per ton increase over February. Traders reported sluggish conditions in the downstream textile industry as many workers had yet to return from the holiday.
At least one producer has nominated a penny price increase for March US orthoxylene contracts. If successful, the increase would bring prices to 42c. per pound.
Healthy demand and rising feedstock costs are pushing polypropylene prices up substantially. Most buyers and sellers have agreed on a 4c. increase for February 1 and a number of producers have price increases slated for February 15 and March 1. The February 15 increases are in the 6c. to 7c. range, while most producers are seeking 3c. to 4c. per pound for March 1.
A shift in cracker feedstocks to ethane has resulted in significantly less propylene on the market and helped push up February propylene contracts in the US by a nickel per pound. The February increase resulted in polymer-grade prices of 46.5c. per pound and chemical-grade prices of 45c. per pound. Refinery-grade propylene prices had settled earlier in the month up 5.5c. per pound to 40.5c.
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