US September cumene falls 5.3% on weaker benzene, demand

20 September 2012 21:48  [Source: ICIS news]

US September cumene falls 5.3%HOUSTON (ICIS)--US September cumene prices fell by an average of 5.3%, sources said on Thursday, tracking weaker feedstock costs and soft demand.

September contract prices for cumene were assessed by ICIS at 53-55 cents/lb ($1,168-1,213/tonne, €899-934/tonne) FOB (free on board).

August cumene contract prices were assessed by ICIS at 56-58 cents/lb FOB.

Most of the fall in September was attributed to feedstock benzene prices coming off their record high and shedding 40 cents/gal.

Additionally, feedstock refinery-grade propylene (RGP) prices were steady.

Demand for cumene was steady at lower-than-normal levels, sources said, citing the weak export volumes for key downstream product phenol.

There were few deals for spot phenol in August, and premiums over feedstocks were in the 2-4 cents/lb range.

Although several deals for spot phenol were done in early September, premiums were only slightly improved, and sources said the deals were done to replenish very low inventories.

“We’re at a pretty weak demand level,” a cumene producer said. “I haven’t heard of any real strengthening occurring yet.”

With phenol demand still soft, operating rates have been in the mid-70% range, directly affecting cumene operating rates.

Sources said that feedstock costs will be the primary driver of cumene contract prices for the rest of the year.

Major US cumene producers include CITGO, Flint Hills Resources, Georgia Gulf, Marathon, Philadelphia Energy Solutions and Shell Chemical.

($1 = €0.77)

By: John Dietrich

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