European benzene spot moves higher amid prompt tightness

17 August 2016 16:25 Source:ICIS News

(adds latest pricing detail in fourth paragraph)

Expect riseLONDON (ICIS)--Spot prices in the European benzene market have pushed higher over the course of the week so far, sources said on Wednesday, with a combination of higher global prices and some tightness in the front end of the market supporting the upward momentum

Bids for August opened the week at $700-705/tonne on a CIF (cost, insurance, freight) basis, but prices have gradually edged higher as the week unfolded. August bids were seen on Tuesday August 16 at $715-720/tonne, and the market eventually moved higher to $730-740/tonne.

Trading activity has been limited so far this week, however, with talk of a prompt delivery deal at $740/tonne. This was so far unconfirmed by the parties involved.

The market edged slightly lower this afternoon alongside some downward movement on crude oil earlier today. Bids for August were at $720/tonne while offers were at $730/tonne. September remained backwardated at $705-715/tonne.

“There isn’t a lot of spot material around,” said one benzene trader. “Demand is good, and we are also seeing higher numbers in Asia and the US.”

US Gulf benzene reached $2.48/gal yesterday, with sentiment across the Atlantic increasingly bullish due to a drop in Asian import volumes making their way into the US market in recent weeks.

Strong regional demand in Asia has also pushed benzene prices higher, putting additional pressure on the arbitrage window into the US market. Some upward momentum on crude oil this week has also supported the higher pricing in Asia.

Some tightness on benzene in the Middle East has also limited export volumes from the region, adding further bullishness to the global market.

By Truong Mellor