LONDON (ICIS)--The European benzene contract price for January has been fully confirmed at €1,153/tonne, up €69/tonne from the previous month, two major producers and three major consumers said on Monday.
The initial settlement, on Friday 28 December, was agreed on a US dollar concept of $1,529/tonne FOB (free on board) NWE (northwest Europe) and converted to the euro price at the agreed exchange rate of €1:$1.3266.
An increase had been expected following gains in the spot market and higher prices in the US, as well as Asia.
In relation to the settlement, the major producer said: “It’s where the spot market has been for some time. Stocks in Europe are on the low side and as soon as prices drop benzene goes to the US – you see 45-50 thousand tonnes moving.”
Demand is on the weak side in Europe but January will be better than December, the producer added.
On the buying side, a contract settler said: “The increase has been mainly driven by the US, but also Asia. European benzene can’t be much cheaper else it will be exported.”
Despite the gains in the contract price, sources on both sides agreed that derivative demand for benzene is not particularly strong in Europe, but an element of restocking had been seen just ahead of the Christmas holidays.
The first contract settlement in Asia was agreed up $40/tonne at $1,470/tonne CFR (cost & freight) Asia.
Spot FOB Korea prices hit a record high on 28 December at $1,480-1,495/tonne because of strong prompt demand.
The US benzene contract price has yet to settle.