US December cumene expected to roll over on steady feedstocks

07 December 2012 21:25  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US December cumene contract prices are expected to roll over, sources said on Friday, tracking steady feedstock costs.

Formula-based contracts are expected to settle at 64-66 cents/lb ($1,411-1,455/tonne, €1,086-1,120/tonne) on an FOB (free on board) basis, flat with the November settlement.

Sources said this is mostly because feedstock costs for December benzene are holding steady.

December benzene contracts settled only 3 cents/gal higher from November, although they reached a record high for the second consecutive month.

The other key feedstock for cumene, refinery-grade propylene (RGP), has experienced a fall of less than 1 cent/lb in spot prices in the past month.

Sources said the feedstocks are the dominant driver because the supply and demand situation is holding steady.

Cumene demand continues to soften on year-end inventory control measures and low operating rates at downstream phenol-acetone plants.

Market players said demand could improve at the start of 2013 on improving construction activity but said they are leery of expectations being overdone.

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

($1 = €0.77)

By: John Dietrich

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