Europe December benzene, styrene contracts expected to drop

30 November 2011 10:40  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Softening demand and an uncertain outlook for the wider global economy mean that December contract prices for benzene and styrene in Europe are expected to fall, players said on Wednesday.

However, a tight prompt situation for domestic styrene has sellers looking to keep any reductions to a minimum.

November saw benzene values fall to their lowest level since September 2010 on the back of weak demand from key downstream markets and wider macroeconomic uncertainty, and despite a marginal recovery since last week, a reduction of around $20–30/tonne (€15–23/tonne) for the December contract is expected by players, based on current spot levels.

The November benzene contract was settled at $935/tonne FOB (free on board) NWE (northwest Europe). December spot has been trading at $900–910/tonne so far this week.

Following the €15/tonne reduction for ethylene in December, several sources felt this should be reflected in the monthly styrene barge contracts.

“Raw materials are down, plus we did not get all of the fall last month,” said one major styrene consumer, adding that the second half of December is “more than weak”.

Despite this, styrene sellers are looking to temper any downward movement in December as ongoing production problems are keeping the front end of the month snug to tight.

“It is almost a repeat of what happened at the start of November,” said one trader, adding that a sharp correction was again likely in the second half of the month.

($1 = €0.75)

For more on benzene and styrene visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: Truong Mellor
+44 208 652 3214

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