Asia April benzene hits 20-week low on bearish sentiment

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

CHONGQING (ICIS)--Asia’s benzene prices for April cargoes fell to a 20-week low on Friday, with offers quoted at below the psychological support of $1,300/tonne (€1,001/tonne), weighed down by bearish market sentiment, industry players said.

At midday, benzene prices were assessed as $1,283-1,288/tonne FOB (free on board) Korea for second-half April cargoes, down by 14% from the all-time high of $1,490/tonne FOB Korea hit on 19 December 2012, according to ICIS.

Three May cargoes were concluded in the morning session at $1,275-1,278/tonne FOB Korea.

“[The] market is too volatile, and most traders are seeing a downtrend,” an Asian broker said.

Given poor demand from the key US and China markets, industry players are worried that benzene prices for April cargoes have yet to hit bottom.

Some Chinese end-users  are expecting prices to decline to $1,250/tonne FOB Korea, as domestic inventory is currently high.

Chinese end-users ‘ April benzene requirements are sufficiently covered,  with current discussions mostly for May cargoes but these buyers are not in a hurry to book new parcels, market sources said.

Benzene prices in Europe are also softening, further weighing on the Asian market, traders said.

“Market is still soft, and we are not sure where is the bottom,” a South Korean producer said.

Asian prices are likely to get support when the US market recovers. Demand for May benzene cargoes in the US is expected to increase as downstream styrene monomer (SM) plants undergoing turnaround are due to restart in April-May.

($1 = €0.77)

Author: Ong Sheau Ling

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