Asia benzene hits 19-week low on poor US, China demand

13 March 2013 10:34  [Source: ICIS news]

CHONGQING, China (ICIS)--Benzene prices in Asia fell to a 19-week low on Wednesday, with scarce spot demand coming from the key US and China markets, traders said.

At the close of trade, benzene for first-half April loading was at $1,315-1,320/tonne (€1,013-1,016/tonne) FOB (free on board) Korea, according to ICIS.

May cargoes were assessed as $1,295-1,305/tonne FOB Korea on Wednesday.

“[The] absence of strong physical demand is not supporting the prices,” a South Korea trader said.

US benzene was assessed as $4.29-4.45/gal FOB US Gulf on Tuesday, yielding a $10-45/tonne gap against Asian prices, keeping the window for arbitrage trades to the US closed, market players said.

 “Demand for March and April cargoes in [the] US remains weak," a Japanese trader said, citing that downstream styrene monomer (SM) plants in the US will only restart in April.

Most Chinese end-users, meanwhile, have ample April stocks of benzene and have started booking May lots since the previous week. But transactions were sporadic as Chinese benzene producers may cut their domestic list prices, industry players said.

“Asia sees less outlet – [market] sentiment gets affected,” a South Korean benzene producer said. 

($1 = €0.77)

Author: Ong Sheau Ling

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