19 November 2008 19:17 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US benzene prices have plummeted to levels not seen since early 2002 on the back of tepid demand, wait-and-see buying sentiment and a surge of fourth-quarter imports, traders said on Wednesday.
Bids were heard around $1.10/gal against offers at $1.18/gal for November and December loading, participants said.
The chemical feedstock last traded at such levels during the first week of March 2002, according to data from global chemical market intelligence service ICIS pricing. In the previous 12 weeks, prices for spot benzene have fallen by 70%.
Contract benzene for December was expected to drop again after diving to $1.60/gal in November from an all-time high of $4.46/gal in September, buyers and traders said.
Drastic price swings in derivative products reflect similar moves in energy markets, where crude oil fell from its peak at over $145/bbl in July to trade around $54/bbl at the latest close.
“Nobody is willing to buy [benzene] because of the bearish atmosphere, but margins are so bad that the offers are not chasing it,” a distributor said.
Major US benzene producers include ExxonMobil, LyondellBasell and BP.
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