Less Asia benzene moves to US in March on uncertain outlook

20 February 2014 12:32  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--A decrease in Asian benzene volumes heading to the US is expected for March lifting because of the widespread uncertainty among sellers of the US price trend in May, players said on Thursday.

The arbitrage window from Asia and the US remained widely open with a price gap of around $200/tonne between US FOB (free on board) barges and FOB Korea prices, according to ICIS.

An estimated volume of 83,000 tonnes of benzene – 35,000 tonnes from South Korea, 36,000 tonnes from Japan and 12,000 tonnes from India -  will be shipped in March to the US, they said.

This volume was down from the February liftings from Asia of close to 100,000 tonnes.

“The poor styrene monomer (SM) demand in Asia is limiting the amount of deepsea SM to come over and hence, that may affect the run rates of US SM units,” a South Korean trader said.

SM is the major downstream of benzene.

However, some players expect more March fixtures to be fixed by the end of February to the US, as Asian sellers’ only outlet is left with the US.

“Recent volatile price developments in Asia and the muted Chinese import activity will continue to prompt more traders to move cargoes to the US,” a South Korean producer said.

China, the largest Asian import market, is still unable to import, given the cheaply-priced domestic cargoes, traders said.

By: Ong Sheau Ling
+65 6780 4359

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