05 May 2011 21:32 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--US xylene and toluene spot barge prices increased 154% and 150%, respectively, year-on-year on the coattails of gasoline’s near-record climb, said a US Gulf trader for a major refiner on Thursday.
In just the past four weeks, spot xylene, a common aromatic, moved up 3.3% to $4.44/gal on 29 April, while spot toluene prices jumped 3% higher to average $4.07/gal. At this time last year, xylene spot values were $2.89/gal, while spot toluene averaged $2.72/gal.
Octane-boosting products such as aromatic solvents xylene and toluene are used in summer gasoline blends to lower vapor pressure during the hot summer months.
The rise in aromatics follows the rise in gasoline values, which have rocketed up approaching the US peak driving season. Gasoline spot values reached 32-month highs on the US Gulf coast last week, while retail prices jumped to 31-month highs at the end of April.
The average spot price for US Gulf regular-grade gasoline was $3.34/gal on 29 April. That is nearly $1/gal higher than at the same time in 2010, when the average spot price was $2.36/gal.
While gasoline values often move higher approaching the summer driving season because of tighter environmental requirements and expectations of rising demand, this year’s climb is almost unprecedented.
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