US toluene and xylene prices are expected to be stable to weaker in the second quarter, market participants said on 30 March on the sidelines of the International Petrochemical Conference (IPC) run by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM).
Demand for blendstocks such as xylene and toluene has typically picked up in the spring, and trade sources had said they expected some demand from the gasoline sector to pick up in March and April. However, demand has been thin in the first quarter alongside ample octane availability.
In addition, the toluene and xylene markets have been competing with other lower-priced blendstock markets, such as reformate and alkylate.
US refiners were also said to be holding toluene and xylene for internal octane usage, according to trade sources.
Overall for the first quarter, toluene and xylene spot prices have been volatile.
Toluene prices began January on a downtrend, but peaked in February on short-lived interest from blenders.
Prices have gradually come back down again in March, because of weakening demand. Current toluene barge spot prices are at $3.65-3.66/gal FOB (free on board), while current mixed xylene (MX) spot prices are at $3.61-3.63/gal FOB.