Americas top stories: weekly summary

10 October 2016 15:00 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Here are some of the top stories from ICIS Americas for the week ended 8 October 2016.

Sasol's new US complex in Louisiana now half complete
Sasol’s new world-scale Lake Charles Chemicals Project (LCCP) in Louisiana is about half complete, with construction around 15% complete, according to company executives from the South Africa-based producer. The LCCP in Westlake, Louisiana, consists of a 1.5m tonne/year ethane cracker, as well as six downstream chemical production facilities.

US spot benzene rises on higher crude
US spot benzene prices rose, tracking gains in upstream crude oil markets. Trade was limited early in the week, with several US market participants attending a petrochemical conference in Europe, and prices began the week lower. However, benzene prices recovered at mid-week as upstream crude oil futures firmed.

US toluene prices firm despite gasoline blend shift
US spot toluene prices were assessed higher as deals were done above the previous week's offer levels. The rise in toluene prices came in spite of the shift from summer to winter gasoline blends, which would normally result in weaker demand for toluene as an octane booster and put downward pressure on prices.

US Sept styrene contracts settle at increase
US styrene contract prices for September have settled at an average increase of 1.5 cents/lb ($33/tonne) over August. Producers use different pricing mechanisms to determine prices, including market prices and reference numbers. Some contracts are also based on a combination of feedstock prices and spot prices. Feedstock prices typically include benzene and, to a much smaller extent, ethylene and natural gas.

US TiO2 Q4 prices said likely to settle flat
A strong spring and a steady summer sharply reduced US TiO2 stocks, but inventories are climbing again, softening already weak fourth-quarter price-hike efforts. Fourth-quarter pigment prices, in fact, were said likely to settle flat on rising inventory amid weakening demand. One buyer suggested current inventories could be as low as 30 days’ supply, but agreed with other customers that supply is increasing as coatings demand continues to weaken seasonally.

'Deepwater Horizon' movie mixes fact with fiction
The Hollywood film Deepwater Horizon has received favourable reviews from movie critics, but some experts are dubious about its portrayal of the 2010 disaster in the US Gulf of Mexico. Donald Van Nieuwenhuise, director of professional geoscience programmes at the University of Houston, said the film showcases the explosion and loss of life, but at 107 minutes in length, it lacks the time required to address the big picture. “The whole story could never fit in one movie designed to get folks to clutch the edge of their chairs,” he said.

US October OX contracts settle higher
US orthoxylene (OX) contracts for October settled higher compared with September. Sources attributed the rise to firmer prices for upstream mixed xylenes (MX). MX prices have remained firm throughout September owing to supply restrictions. MX prices would typically move lower after the summer as the switch from summer to winter gasoline blends typically results in lower MX demand from gasoline blenders.

US jobs growth short of forecast for September
US nonfarm job growth slowed to 156,000 in September, the US Department of Labor said on Friday. Last month’s jobs growth was below an upward-revised 167,000 jobs added in August. It also was below the average of 192,000/month of job gains over the past three months and it missed the 175,000 jobs that economists polled by a media group had forecast for September.

US crude penetrates psychological $50.00/bbl barrier
NYMEX WTI crude futures for November delivery settled at $50.44/bbl, up 61 cents on Thursday, having penetrated the key barrier for the first time since June. Upside momentum lifted the front-month West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the US benchmark, to hit a session high of $50.58/bbl, before retreating on profit-taking.

US chem shipment values rise for 17th straight month
US chemical shipment values in August rose for the 17th straight month year on year, according to data obtained on Wednesday from the US Department of Commerce. The value of US-made chemical shipments totaled $65.83bn in August, a 2.3% gain over the same month in 2015. In the larger economy, August shipment values for all US manufacturing industries fell by 4.1%, marking 21 straight months of declines.

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By Staff Reporter