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Updated to Q4 2016
European ethyl benzene (EB) production economics saw some erosion over the course of September, with styrene numbers dropping due to weak demand and ample regional supply amid the arrival of US imports. By the end of the month and into October 2016, the benzene/styrene spread had weakened to around the $200/tonne mark as styrene dropped below $900/tonne, but the dynamic quickly changed as the fourth quarter unfolded.
Benzene spot numbers continued to ease lower in October, but there was some recovery on styrene due to some US production outages and the clearing out of some regional length in Europe. This supported healthy EB/SM (styrene monomer) economics into November, and the benzene/styrene spread continued to widen.
Benzene prices started to trend higher in November but remained below $700/tonne, while styrene spot levels closed in on the $1,100/tonne mark in line with some bullishness in Asia. The recent spike in December benzene prices has narrowed the spread slightly, but styrene prices in Europe have held above $1,100/tonne following an unplanned outage in Europe.
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