US October cumene contract settles lower on benzene

25 October 2013 19:32 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US cumene contract range for October settled lower by 1 cent/lb ($22/tonne, €16/tonne) from September, largely on lower feedstock benzene values, sources said on Friday.

The decrease moved the October cumene range to 63-64 cents/lb, as assessed by ICIS.

The October benzene contract fell early in the month by 3 cents/gal to settle at $4.37/gal, putting downward pressure on the cumene range.

Soft market conditions, principally on dismal US phenol demand, are keeping cumene supply ample, stemming largely from phenol production still in the 65-70% range, sources confirmed again this week.

September cumene previously settled 2 cents/lb higher on stronger benzene.

Downstream, an indicator of the health of the US construction industry within the next 6-9 months continued its upward trajectory with an increase in September.

The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Architectural Billings Index (ABI) increased to 54.3, up from 53.8 in August. Any ABI score above 50 indicates an increase in demand for architectural design services.

The AIA said the prolonged economic downturn has heightened technological innovation and increased competition and efficiency, leading to more planned building activity.

Despite the positive news, housing surveys continue to yield mixed results, as the seasonal lull approaches.

Major US cumene producers include Citgo, Flint Hills Resources, Axiall, Marathon, Philadelphia Energy Solutions and Shell Chemical.

($1 = €0.72)

By Larry Terry