April cumene contract values decline on softer feedstock

29 April 2013 22:59  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US April cumene contract prices softened on weaker upstream values, sources said on Monday.

The decline took the monthly cumene contract down by 7 cents/lb ($154/tonne, €119/tonne) to 60-61 cents/lb, as assessed by ICIS, on softer benzene and refinery-grade propylene (RGP).

March cumene prices had previously fallen by 9.4%, or an average of 7 cents/lb, on similar fundamentals.

The US April benzene contract had previously dropped by 33 cents/gal ($99/tonne) to settle at $4.36/gal on weak demand and improved supply. And, until last week, RGP values had fallen by 29% since early March.

The US benzene spot market has been subdued in recent days, alongside mixed energy and easing benzene prices overseas. But spot prices had previously been moving up for much of April on factors including stronger energy prices and some short-cover positions earlier in the month.

US refinery-grade propylene (RGP) was higher late on Friday at 50-51 cents/lb, up from 47cents/lb one week earlier, tracking slightly improved demand from the polymers market as buyers started to rebuild inventories.

Downstream demand for coatings is still softer than projections. Although optimism exists among some market participants, others insist that economic recovery remains stymied, with many customers apprehensive about the continuing delay in the spring painting season.

In its monthly index of chemical industry activity, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) showed a 0.2% gain this month from its March measure – negligible by some standards but the ninth consecutive monthly improvement.

In other economic news, single-family housing starts will reach 672,000 units by the end of this year and then climb to nearly 860,000 in 2014 as the housing sector continues to recover, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) said.

Major US cumene producers include Citgo, Flint Hills Resources, Georgia Gulf, Marathon, Philadelphia Energy Solutions and Shell Chemical.

($1 = €0.77)

By: Larry Terry
1 713 525 2653

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