SAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS)--European styrene consumers are expecting a rollover on the April contract price despite significant plant turnarounds, two buyers said on Monday.
Feedstock prices are under pressure and the markets are bearish, one buyer said on the sidelines of the International Petrochemical Conference (IPC).
“US benzene is off, and Europe will drop. Spot is now $380-390/tonne above benzene,” the first buyer said.
“There’s a lot of high-priced styrene in stock …We need to see trader stocks start to fall … A lot of people have got big positions in benzene and styrene. People are anxious,” he added.
Styrene shutdowns at two key styrene units will tighten supply in April.
“The two biggest trade sellers will be out. It’s got to make an impression,” he said.
“There’s a bearish attitude in Asia. There was no upturn after the Lunar New Year,” he said.
A second buyer noted that recent spot price decreases on benzene would be key to any price movement on styrene in April.
“We would like to see the whole of the benzene (drop) passed on. It should knock €70-80/tonne off the [benzene] contract price, but will it be passed on into styrene?” he asked.
European March contract prices were settled on the first of the month at €1,475/tonne ($1,916/tonne) FOB (free on board) ARA (Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp) for styrene, and on 28 February at €1,054/tonne FOB NWE (northwest Europe) for benzene.
In contrast to the expectation of an April rollover expressed by the buyers, styrene sellers had previously forecast that the two major shutdowns in March-April would keep prices firm. Some traders had anticipated stronger spot demand during the turnaround season.
Hosted by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), the IPC continues through Tuesday.
($1 = €0.77)