Asia benzene jumps to two-week high on SM, crude rally

10 July 2013 06:00  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Spot benzene prices in Asia rose to a two-week high on Wednesday, driven by recent spikes in energy and downstream styrene monomer (SM) values, market players said.

At midday, July and August cargoes were assessed at $1,223-1,225/tonne (€954-956/tonne) FOB (free on board) Korea, up $40-43/tonne from 3 July, according to ICIS.

Brent crude have gone up by around $3/bbl from the previous week and is now trading at above $107/bbl, largely on heightened political tensions in Egypt.

Spot SM prices, on the other hand, settled at a six-month high on Tuesday at $1,770-1,790/tonne CFR (cost and freight) China, according to ICIS data.

“Sentiment is supported by the bull run of crude and SM. Supply-demand fundamentals do not see such a stark improvement,” a South Korean producer said.

In Europe, SM prices are also on the rise.

“SM prices are supporting benzene. Look at the spread between [SM and benzene] – it is crazy,” a South Korean trader said.

The spread between SM and benzene was at $565-582/tonne at the close of trade on Tuesday.

“I have never seen such a large spread [of SM and benzene] ever,” a Japanese SM producer said.

Demand for second-July  and August cargoes was stronger especially Chinese importers were actively seeking material in the previous two weeks.

“Let’s see how the prices will move. But for sure, players are more cautious by this rally,” a Singapore-based trader said.

($1 = €0.78)

Author: Ong Sheau Ling

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