Europe November benzene falls to 14-month low on weak demand

11 November 2011 12:04  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--European benzene prices fell below $900/tonne (€666/tonne) this week to their lowest level since September 2010 on the back of weak demand from key downstream markets and wider macroeconomic uncertainty, sources said on Friday.

After trading last week in a range of $915-940/tonne CIF (cost, insurance, freight) ARA (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp), the bid/offer range hovered in the low-to-mid $900s/tonne before ongoing downstream softness saw November bids come down to $880/tonne.

While the wider macroeconomic uncertainty is not adding any confidence to an already fragile market, most players believe that the weakness for key derivative demand is the major factor in the current bearishness.

Phenol demand is very poor,” said one benzene trader. “Cyclohexane appears to have collapsed as well, with a 50% reduction in output. There is simply nowhere for benzene to go.”

The key downstream styrene market is currently facing an extraordinarily tight situation for November, with price ideas topping the $1,500/tonne mark although actual deals appear to scarce owing to the limited availability of cargo.

This tightness is largely due to delayed production restarts in November, but prices for December are already starting to climb as players grow anxious about availability for the forward month.

Deals for December material were confirmed within a range of $1,275-1,290/tonne last week, but November bullishness has helped pull values up this week, and deals have been heard at $1,345/tonne and $1,360/tonne. By Friday morning the bid level for December was at $1,405/tonne.

“Even January could be the same,” added a styrene trader. “Technically the arbitrage between Europe and the US is open but there are no vessels available.”

($1 = €0.74)

For more on benzene and styrene visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: Truong Mellor
+44 208 652 3214

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