US October cumene prices rise 4%

29 September 2010 23:03  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US October cumene formula-prices rose by 4% to 47-48 cents/lb ($1,036-1,058/tonne or €767-783/tonne) on the back of higher feedstock benzene and refinery grade propylene (RGP) costs, sources said on Thursday.

The September cumene price was assessed at 45-46 cents/lb.

The cumene price is based on feedstocks benzene and the spot RGP average.

US October benzene contracts rose by 2% on a combination of higher energy costs and a steady stream of buyers looking for supply in a tightened market, sources said.

Benzene buyers and sellers settled the contract at $3.075 cents/gal, up from $3.010/gal in September.

Benzene imports from Asia have steadily decreased, just as US refineries experienced a series of shutdowns. At the same time, steady demand in the benzene derivative markets - including styrene and toluene - forced buyers to push prices up as they sought a shrinking supply of material, sources said.

RGP prices have averaged around 46 cents/lb over the last two weeks, slightly up from the 44 cents/lb average one month ago.

Robust demand for phenol derivatives kept phenol/acetone operating rates strong in the US, leading to tight cumene supplies. Both phenol and acetone are feedstocks for bisphenol A (BPA), which is used to make polycarbonate (PC).

Blue Island Phenol, Citgo, Dow Chemical, Flint Hills Resources, Georgia Gulf, INEOS, Marathon, and Shell are among the cumene producers in the US.

($1 = €0.74)

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By: Heather McGuire Doyle
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