30 March 2010 10:02 [Source: ICIS news]
By Mahua Chakravarty
SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--Benzene prices in Asia hit a two-month high on Tuesday and may rise further in the next few weeks on the back of bullish aromatics markets in the US and Europe and strong crude values, said traders and producers.
Spot benzene prices breached the $1,000/tonne (€740/tonne) FOB (free on board) ?xml:namespace>
Prices had gone up by about $105-110/tonne in the past two weeks, based on ICIS pricing data.
On Tuesday, sellers quoted higher offers of $1,025-1,030/tonne for May-loading cargoes, but bids remained much lower at $1,000/tonne, market sources said.
Bids for second-half April loading lots also surfaced at $995-1,000/tonne, but no sellers stepped forth with offers, they added.
An overnight spike in crude futures prices above $82/bbl, along with continuing firmness in the
“[Going forward] there seems to be more upside for benzene,” said a key regional trader, citing the current supply tightness in the European benzene market that should keep prices buoyant across three regions.
Asian exporters were heard to be looking at fixing parcels for April shipment to the
Asia is a net benzene exporter to the
Sentiment in the spot market was also more bullish for May as demand from the key downstream styrene monomer (SM) segment was expected to improve when SM plants restart, market sources said.
A slew of turnarounds at SM units in northeast Asia from March had slowed down demand for benzene as the sector absorbs about half of
The expected resurgence in demand would help address the benzene surplus in the region. Prices for May-loading cargoes were fetching a premium of about $5-10/tonne against second-half April shipments, they said.
Supply of aromatics may also fall as a number of regional crackers were anticipated to switch to using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as feedstock instead of naphtha, starting end April or May, market sources said.
Cracking of LPG is known to reduce aromatics supply, said a Singapore-based trader.
($1 = €0.74)
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