Europe benzene spot prices move down as market lacks direction

20 September 2013 14:40  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--European spot benzene price assessments are proving difficult because of a lack of direction stemming from sluggish market conditions and lower crude prices, sources said on Friday.

Benzene is currently valued at $1,255-1,280/tonne (€929-947/tonne) CIF (cost insurance freight) ARA (Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp), down by $25-30/tonne from last Friday’s close.

“It’s been a strange five months for all of the [benzene] traders. Where is our role in all of this? It’s a tough market to figure out,” said a normally active benzene trader.

“Prices should go up, but cumene demand is terrible,” it added.

Indeed, demand for cumene derivative phenol and phenol derivatives have been declining since July 2012, largely because of falling demand for polycarbonate (PC) which ultimately drives global phenol production.

Other phenol derivatives, such as resins and nylon intermediates - some of which are exported to Asia - have also been under downward pressure as Asian markets become more self sufficient.

Spot benzene prices have eased this week, largely on the back of declining crude oil and little public trading has taken place, according to traders.

The only public deals confirmed were earlier in the week at $1,275-1,295/tonne and around 5,000 tonnes of material traded on 19 September at $1,280/tonne for September, sources said.

Talking about the benzene market, another aromatics trader said: “It’s simple. There are less imports from the US and styrene is running okay. But the [benzene] market has dropped and it’s not very active. People are more long than short and suddenly there is no demand.”

($1 = €0.74)

By: Julia Meehan
+44 20 8652 3214

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