US SBR 1502/1712 price spread tightens on higher crude oil prices

04 September 2013 16:52 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US styrene-butadiene-rubber mimicked key feedstock butadiene (BD) and settled at a rollover for the September contract, sources said on Wednesday.

That puts the assessed range for SBR non-oil grade SBR unchanged at 80.5-90.5 cents/lb ($1,775-1,995/tonne, €1,349-1,516/tonne), while SBR oil-extended grade 1712 rose 11 cents/lb to 74.5-84.5 cents/lb.  

The big development, sources said, was the narrowing of the spread between SBR 1502 and SBR 1712. The difference is usually about 5-10 cents/lb less for 1712. But with 1712 more subject to the vagaries of crude oil prices, the recent uptick in crude futures has caused the spread to narrow to just 5-7 cents/lb, sources said.

Both US SBR and BD are lower on weakness in the replacement-tyre market, which accounts for about 80% of US total tyre sales. Tyres are a key downstream market for both SBR and BD.

Replacement tyres are not selling, sources say, because of weak economies worldwide. Last week, Ford Europe said that it estimated that the European auto market had hit bottom but did not see it recovering to pre-recession levels for at least five years. In the near term, sources had expected the replacement-trye market to recover sometime in the second half of 2013, but now estimates are for no recovery before second quarter 2014.

The US auto market is on track to sell 16m cars and light trucks in 2013, which would be its best year since 2007. But new-car sales are of little help to BD and SBR buyers and sellers because new-car tyres are such a small part of the overall tyre market. Furthermore, many of the tyres that automakers put on new cars are made from emulsion-SBR. The US and European tyre makers are moving away from tyres made from E-SBR and focusing more on so-called green tyres made from solution-SBR.  

($1 = €0.76)

By Mark Yost