LONDON (ICIS)--European styrene spot prices dropped last week amid healthy availability, currently making the region the lowest-priced market for styrene, sources said on Monday.
September traded as low as $962/tonne on Friday 9 September, with bids valued at $960-965/tonne and offers around the $980/tonne mark.
US Gulf prices were hovering just above $990/tonne late last week, while Asian spot values were at $1,020-1,030/tonne FOB (free on board) Korea earlier on Monday.
“We are looking at exports to Asia,” said one European trader earlier today. “It is still a bit tricky with freight rates and timings.”
The last time European spot levels dipped below both Asia and the US market was in January 2015 following a €290/tonne drop on the monthly barge contract and bearishness on both benzene and crude oil.
US prices have recently been buoyed by lower production output and higher benzene prices in August.
There has also a stronger export market to Asia. During the first seven months of 2016, the US exported 236,733 tonnes to South Korea, which was up by 189% from the same period a year earlier.
The limitations on export material are expected to continue this month, with Shell’s styrene unit in Alberta, Canada coming offline in September.“The question is how long this situation will last,” said one European source last week. “Benzene prices are holding, and the US styrene market is firm.”