14 August 2013 11:09 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--European benzene spot numbers have gained ground this week amid a growing sense of tightness and firming prices in the US and Asia, sources said on Wednesday.
After opening the week around the $1,250/tonne (€938/tonne) level, August spot deals were later done at $1,275/tonne and $1,280/tonne CIF (cost, insurance & freight) ARA (Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp) as the market rallied on some renewed buying interest.
September held a slight contango still, with a deal done early in the week at $1,270/tonne before offers moved as high as $1,290/tonne.
By Wednesday 14 August, spot values for August were at $1,270-1,285/tonne while September remained slightly firmer at $1,280-1,290/tonne.
The European benzene market saw some downward movement on spot pricing earlier in the month, but has since started to show signs of recovery as the US market picks up. Ongoing macroeconomic uncertainty amid oil and energy losses last week kept sentiment bearish to a degree, although some gains on naphtha helped reverse some of the earlier losses.
Some gains on crude oil futures so far this week have also helped support the current upward momentum on spot benzene, with Brent pushing up over $109/bbl.
Looking ahead, the European market is increasingly bullish into the back end of 2013, with some scheduled cracker shutdowns planned for the second half of the year potentially leading to feedstock supply disruption, in what remains a structurally tight global market.
Traders said there is a sense that prompt availability could tighten ahead of September, with some players looking to cover themselves ahead of the cracker turnarounds later in the year.
July was a comparatively weak month for European benzene, with spot prices reaching a yearly low of $1,210/tonne CIF ARA on seasonally slow demand and the arrival of up to 30,000 tonnes of imported material from South America and the US Gulf region.
The European August benzene contract was agreed at a US dollar concept of $1,257/tonne FOB (free on board) NWE (northwest Europe) and converted to the euro price of €946/tonne at the agreed exchange rate of €1:$1.3288.
($1 = €0.75)
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