Asia benzene closes flat; China data, SM inspire afternoon gains

10 January 2013 10:41  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Spot benzene prices in Asia were unchanged at the close of trade on Thursday, as a rebound in the downstream styrene monomer (SM) market and an upbeat economic data from China helped wipe out morning losses, traders said on Thursday.

Prices settled at $1,385-1,395/tonne FOB (free on board) Korea for February cargoes, and at $1,385-1,400/tonne FOB Korea for March parcels on Thursday, according to ICIS.

Spot prices snapped three consecutive sessions of losses on Thursday, as the downstream SM market slightly recovered and amid positive sentiment generated by China’s December trade data, which also buoyed up crude prices.

Spot SM prices gained $10/tonne at the low-end of the range to $1,740-1,750/tonne CFR (cost and freight) China on Thursday. Brent crude futures were trading at close to $113/bbl in late afternoon.

Two benzene fixtures were settled between traders in the afternoon at $1,385/tonne FOB Korea and $1,390/tonne FOB Korea for March shipments.

“Some traders are coming in to buy. That pushed prices up [in the afternoon],” a Singapore-based trader said.

At the close of trade, the benzene market spread for February and March was flat to a contango of $5/tonne, coming from a backwardation of $15-20/tonne in the morning session, traders said.

But the weak European and US benzene prices may continue to exert downward pressure in the Asian market.

“We can only tell in a day or two to see whether the price fall will stop,” a second Singapore-based trader said.

($1 = €0.77)

Author: Ong Sheau Ling

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