Asia benzene hits two-week low on weak US, Europe markets

15 February 2013 05:10  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Spot benzene prices in Asia fell to a two-week low on Friday morning, falling below $1,400/tonne (€1,050/tonne), weighed down by softer markets in Europe and the US overnight, market players said.

At midday, prices were at $1,392-1,397/tonne FOB (free on board) Korea for second-half March parcels, down by $30-33/tonne or 2.2% from Thursday, while for April loading, prices were assessed as $1,386-1,395/tonne FOB (free on board) Korea, according to ICIS.

“Both [the] US and European markets are lower. This is dampening the sentiment here,” a Singapore-based trader said.

In the US, spot benzene prices for prompt cargoes were at $4.61-4.65/gal FOB US Gulf on 14 February’s close, down by $12-13/gal from the previous session.

In Europe, benzene prices likewise fell by $10-15/tonne to $1,390-1,395/tonne CIF (cost, insurance and freight) ARA, according to ICIS.

“This may be a brief down trending, as many of us are quite confident that supply-demand will tighten ahead of turnarounds at aromatics facilities and the restart of downstream units,” a South Korean trader said.

The intermonth spread between April and May has been narrowing over the past few sessions to a backwardation of less than $5/tonne from more than $10/tonne, indicating that it may turn into a contango in the near-term, market players said.

“April and May should be in contango,” a South Korean producer said.

A Singapore-based trader said: “China will return tomorrow and hopefully demand will return.”

The Chinese market is closed for the Lunar New Year holidays from 9-15 February.

($1 = €0.75)

Author: Ong Sheau Ling

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