Europe styrene still stagnant for April despite benzene gains

09 April 2013 14:37  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--European styrene sentiment remains cautious and activity subdued, sources said on Tuesday, despite a slight upturn in upstream benzene pricing.

Firmer global sentiment pushed European benzene spot numbers back up to $1,300/tonne (€1,001/tonne) CIF (cost, insurance & freight) ARA (Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp) earlier on Tuesday, but the styrene market failed to move in tandem with the feedstock.

After closing on Monday April 8 at $1,600-1,620/tonne FOB (free on board) Rotterdam and trading at $1,605/tonne, styrene April bids came down to $1,590/tonne this morning, while offers edged up to $1,625/tonne amid some uncertainty about the general direction of the market.

“Sentiment is still soft,” said one major consumer, adding that it expects the market to come down to around $1,580/tonne before it gets active again.

“With the imports coming in from the US, there are probably a lot of buyers waiting to see if sellers look to move material at a lower price in order to clear space in the tanks,” the consumer explained.

However, others countered this view, arguing that May was looking firmer at $1,600-1,635/tonne already.

“If benzene stays on an upward course,” said one trader, “this could help support the styrene market. The spread remains around $300/tonne, which is healthy considering that demand has been quiet.”

With turnarounds expected to keep styrene availability limited during coming weeks, and demand predicted to recover as the weather improves, one source said that the price volatility and bullishness predicted earlier in the year could become apparent by the end of April.

($1 = €0.77)

By: Truong Mellor
+44 208 652 3214

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