US petchems falling alongside global markets

09 October 2008 21:03  [Source: ICIS news]

Economy to worsen - Wells FargoHOUSTON (ICIS news)--The values of many key petrochemical feedstocks were in further retreat in the US on Thursday, reflecting falling upstream values and a global economic slowdown as the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 6%.

Paraxylene (PX) spot prices in the US had fallen to 47-49 cents/lb ($1,036-1,080/tonne, €756-788/tonne) because of cheaper crude oil values, down from 55-57 cents/lb at the end of last week.

Spot refinery-grade propylene (RGP) for October traded at 41.75 cents/lb on Thursday, down from an offer at 44 cents/lb on Wednesday and down from 50.25 cents/lb on 2 October, when the last pipeline deal was heard done.

US Gulf October benzene barges were talked in a range of $3.40-3.45/gal FOB, compared with $3.95-4.00/gal FOB a week earlier.

A surge of benzene imports and falling crude oil prices combined with weak buying interest and economic uncertainty to help drive prices lower, traders said.

A partial contract settlement for orthoxylene (OX) in the US was reached at 50 cents/lb, sources said, down 8 cents from September’s 58 cents/lb level, largely because of a decline in the price of mixed xylenes (MX).

MX was heard trading on a spot basis at $2.90-3.00/gal, down from $3.30-3.40/gal a week ago, pushed lower by cheaper gasoline.

Upstream, NYMEX light sweet crude futures for November delivery settled at $86.59/bbl, down $2.36 versus Wednesday’s close, dragged down by the sell-off in the stock market.

Fears that the global economy may head into a recession and destroy energy demand outweighed the announcement that OPEC will hold an emergency meeting in November to discuss the financial crisis, with the possibility of trimming output to support prices.

Downstream, the US auto industry was in limbo after shares of General Motors lost nearly 20% to trade at $5.56/share, a 58-year low. The company announced it was considering selling its Detroit headquarters to raise cash.

Automobile manufacturers are big consumers of many chemicals.

(Additional reporting from William Lemos, David Barry and Ignacio Sotolongo)

($1 = €0.73)

For more on paraxylene, propylene, benzene, mixed xylenes and orthoxylene visit ICIS chemical intelligence
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By: David Rosen

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