22 January 2010 06:06 [Source: ICIS news]
By Mahua Chakravarty
SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--Asia’s benzene and toluene demand is expected to slow down with the start of the downstream styrene monomer (SM) turnaround season and also due to upcoming Lunar New Year holidays in February, market sources said on Friday.
At present, demand for benzene from the SM sector is healthy, but this is not likely to last going into February when a slew of shutdowns at a number of SM units in ?xml:namespace>
“There are some shutdowns of SM plants from next month, [so] we expect the benzene market to soften,” said a Japanese supplier of benzene. SM is the largest downstream, with about 50% of
In addition, benzene supply in
Due to such bearish expectations, a number of key benzene sellers in Asia were trying to ship volumes to the
A similar slowdown in demand was expected in the Asian toluene market as
“Some factories have already started reducing production for the holidays,” an east China-based trader said.
Inventory levels in east
However, medium term expectations for both benzene and toluene from March-May were more upbeat. Prices of both products were likely to rise from March when demand for aromatics imports in the
The onset of summer in some Asian countries was also expected to improve gasoline demand, which in turn would improve toluene demand, said traders and producers.
Toluene is used as a blendstock in gasoline production in the
This optimism in a price recovery was not shared by all, with some players expecting the US-led recovery in benzene prices to be weaker than previous years due to heavy Asian exports to the US and general weaker demand these days.
“Demand for products from the
SM plants turnaround schedule
Additional reporting by Clive Ong
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