25 March 2013 19:52 [Source: ICIS news]
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS)--US aromatics trade sources said on Monday that they expect toluene barge spot prices to continue moving lower in the near term because of an influx of volume expected from Asia.
Speaking on the sidelines of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers' (AFPM) International Petrochemical Conference (IPC) in San Antonio, trade sources said expected decline would be held mostly to US nitration-grade (n-grade), compared with other aromatics markets.
One US trade source said, however, that he was bullish on toluene for May and June.
Asian toluene market has come down in March, weighed down by the mounting inventories in the key China market.
Over the first quarter thus far, US nitration-grade (n-grade) toluene spot prices have been volatile. Spot levels came down in January, but saw a short-lived spike in prices in mid-February as supply was tighter because of production issues.
Since then, n-grade toluene prices have gradually moved lower in late February and March as supply improves and demand weakens.
Current n-grade toluene spot prices are at $3.90-4.00/gal FOB (free on board).
Demand for toluene and xylene typically picks up in late March, April and May in preparation for the US summer driving season. Trade participants have said some blenders have already started to buy toluene and xylene.
But should toluene prices continue to fall, consumers may hold off on buying until prices stabilise.
The IPC takes place through Tuesday in San Antonio.
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