20 September 2012 21:48 [Source: ICIS news]
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.
($1 = €0.77)
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