Europe benzene March spot prices crash over 50% since Monday

Author: Helena Strathearn

2020/03/24

LONDON (ICIS)--Europe benzene spot prices for March have halved in value in less than 24 hours on the back of collapsing demand.

March was valued at $150-170/tonne on Tuesday afternoon, which is a $185-190/tonne decrease over values seen on Monday.

April traded earlier at $150/tonne and at $180/tonne, and twice for H1 April at $175/tonne.

“Demand in Europe is bad,” a trader said, adding that consumers were selling.

On Monday, benzene for April traded at $300/tonne.

“Today... half price,” the trader said.

The price slide appears to be slowing, “for now at least,” the traded added, describing the market as a rollercoaster.

A buyer said, “It’s amazing to see benzene prices below naphtha. As far as I understand, demand is very weak so some sellers wished to move material.”

Another player attributed the plunge to not only a near eradication in demand but also to “panic as well... maybe overreaction?”.

April was valued at $160-175/tonne for H1, while any April was valued at $180-200/tonne.

May was valued in contango at $205-230/tonne, with June bids firmer still but also in the low $200s/tonne.

The ranges on Monday stood at $340-350/tonne for March, and at $260-340/tonne for April.

The decreases seen in late morning and early afternoon Tuesday came in contrast to the relative stability in crude oil and naphtha prices earlier in the day.

March prices closed 33% lower on Friday versus the week before.

Demand has been under increasing pressure in the past few weeks as the coronavirus pandemic has impacted supply chains and created growing economic uncertainty. In the meantime, prices have tumbled in response to the oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Benzene is used to produce a number of intermediates that are used to create polymers, solvents and detergents.

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