Price and market trends: US April phenol contract range falls on weaker benzene

10 May 2013 09:40  [Source: ICB]

US April phenol contracts fell in line with April benzene contracts, sources confirmed on 29 April.

April phenol contracts shed 4.48 cents/lb ($99/tonne, €76/tonne) from March, taking values to a new range of 84.06-88.51 cents/lb, as assessed by ICIS.

The phenol decline was in line with the April benzene contract drop of 33 cents/gal.


Sources continued to say that the phenol market, diminished by weak downstream-market demand that has driven down production rates, may not see improvement until 2014.

US PhenolSpot export phenol prices were still being heard within the range of 62-64 cents/lb, though values are expected to rise in May.

Phenol co-product acetone was said to be more balanced with current demand, but phenol production rates remain low, continuing to impinge on acetone production.

In its monthly index of chemical industry activity, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) showed a 0.2% gain this month from the 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 new one-family build-outs in 2014 as the housing sector continues to recover, a US home builders organisation said during the week.

In its semi-annual housing sector forecast, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) said that by the end of next year, construction of new single-family homes should reach 858,000 for the full year, or about 71% of what was considered "normal" new home construction of 1.3m units annually before the housing market crash in 2006. Major US phenol producers include Axial, Dow Chemical, Haverhill Chemical, Honeywell, INEOS Phenol and Shell Chemical.

Meanwhile, US April cumene contract prices softened on weaker upstream values, sources said on 29 April.


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 the previous week, RGP values had fallen by 29% since early March.

By: Larry Terry
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