Chemical market trends: Prices start to fall but Europe OX hits a high

30 April 2012 00:00  [Source: ICB]

A first nomination for the US May butadiene (BD) contract has emerged at $1.59/lb ($3,505/tonne), a drop of 1.9% on April. The producer previously settled its April contracts at $1.62/lb - although the majority of April US BD contracts saw a three-tier settlement in the range of $1.52-1.55/lb. Meanwhile, in Asia, spot prices are falling amid slowing demand from the downstream synthetic rubber sector. By the week ending April 20, Asian BD spot values had shed around $100/tonne to average $3,225/tonne CFR (cost & freight) NE (Northeast) Asia, with a strong likelihood that spot numbers would fall below $3,000/tonne.

April paraxylene (PX) contracts in the US settled at 78.50 cents/lb ($1,731/tonne), a fall of 3.50 cents/lb from March. The drop followed a lower Asian Contract Price (ACP), which was agreed down by $65/tonne at $1,585/tonne. Japanese firms JX Nippon Oil & Energy and Idemitsu Kosan are proposing hikes of $35/tonne and $65/tonne, respectively, for the May ACP. The increase will take JX Nippon Oil & Energy's May ACP to $1,620/tonne and Idemitsu Kosan's to $1,650/tonne. US major ExxonMobil has nominated $1,640/tonne for its May ACP, a rise of $55/tonne. Asian PX premiums are said to have stagnated in the range of $15-17/tonne as buyers in the spot market have shunned the usual formula based on 50% ACP and 50% CFR quotes.

The European orthoxylene (OX) contract has settled up by €50/tonne in April at a record high of €1,180/tonne. In the previous four weeks, OX spot prices have jumped by $145-170/tonne to a record level of $1,640-1,680/tonne. Availability is tight and expected to tighten further with more turnarounds scheduled in Europe next month. Sources said that prices were sure to rise in May as a result.

By: Elaine Burridge
+44 20 8652 3214

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