Asia benzene cross $1,400/tonne FOB Korea on improved sentiment

06 March 2013 04:57  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia benzene prices firmed to above $1,400/tonne (€1,078/tonne), following a rebound on Tuesday after a five straight session of price decline previously, market sources said on Wednesday.  

Market sentiment improved from last afternoon, tracking the stronger crude futures, they said.

In addition, the higher overnight US prices and the news of the fire at the Marathon refinery on 1 March boosted players’ confidence that demand for April loading in the US from Asia will turn robust, traders said.

On Wednesday midday, spot prices in Asia were at $1,400-1,405/tonne FOB (free on board)   Korea for March, $1,372-1,405/tonne FOB Korea for April and $1,364-1,370/tonne FOB Korea for May loading, according to ICIS.

Spot Asia benzene prices recovered a total of $50-55/tonne or 3.9% since 5 March afternoon, after a cumulative price plunge of $65/tonne or 4.6% since 25 February.

On Tuesday’s close, US benzene spot prices were discussed at $4.59-4.61/gal, ICIS reported.

“With the restart of the SM (styrene monomer) units in the US, physical demand will return and hopefully by then arbitrage will open,” a South Korea-based trader said.

Arbitrage from Asia to the US has been closed for about two weeks, following negligible spread between the two regions, players said.

Given the freight rates from South Korean to the US at $60/tonne odd levels, the spread between Asia and US should widen to more than that, they added.

($1 = €0.77)

Author: Ong Sheau Ling

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