06 September 2013 09:54 [Source: ICB]
The US phenol contract range for August settled higher on 29 August despite ongoing soft market conditions, in line with the August increase in the benzene contract.
The increase moved the August phenol contract range up by 1.36 cents/lb ($30/tonne, €23/tonne) to 81.47-85.92 cents/lb, as assessed by ICIS.
The increase was based on August benzene, which climbed to $4.17 cents/gal, an increase of 10 cents/gal from July and the first in two months. The July benzene increase stemmed largely from higher spot values, sources said. Long supply and weak demand continued to beset the phenol market, with operating rates still in the 65-70% range, sources said. Derivative markets were also said to be weak, with demand from housing still mixed. Spot phenol export values continued mostly stable but on a notional basis because little or no business is being done. Besides the lack of an export market to Asia, higher benzene values are diminishing spot export activity.
The US September benzene contract is expected to settle higher this week, following the recent run-up in spot prices on the back of expected tight supply ahead of turnarounds in September and October, sources said. Some market participants said they expect the September benzene contract to settle within a range of $4.40-4.42/gal, which is 23-25 cents/gal above the August contract price.
US phenol producers include Axiall, Dow Chemical, Haverhill Chemical, Honeywell, INEOS Phenol and Shell Chemical.
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