US spot benzene prices fall from record highs on soft demand

19 July 2012 23:00  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Weak buying interest from traders and soft downstream demand has pushed spot benzene prices off their record highs, sources said on Thursday.

US spot benzene prices were heard at $4.80-5.00/gal FOB (free on board), down from record highs at $5.50/gal FOB a week ago, as assessed by ICIS.

Much of the reason for the ramp-up in the prices was that several buyers were caught in short positions in July, sources said.

However, with most buying of July material completed, spot prices for the front month have fallen.

Downstream buyers in the key styrene and cumene markets have expressed disappointment in benzene prices and said they will resist buying material unless its price continues falling.

“August benzene is crazy and is killing phenol,” one trader said. “You can’t do business based on August benzene.”

Sources said that August benzene prices are being seen at $4.70-4.95/gal FOB and that the gap has narrowed between August and July material.

“Benzene is scaring everyone,” a buyer said. “Our customers are waiting to see what the impact of August will be.”

Major benzene producers include BP Chemicals, Chevron Phillips Chemical, ExxonMobil, Flint Hills Resources and Shell Chemical.

By: John Dietrich

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