HOUSTON (ICIS)--US spot benzene prices rose on the week, tracking higher prices in Europe and Asia.
Downstream demand for US styrene exports was healthy, with 35,000-40,000 tonnes of styrene heard to have been fixed for shipment from the US to Asia for June.
US benzene was liquid this week, with a number of deals heard, mostly for the forward month. Deals were also heard for August and September on the week while a few deals were also confirmed for June.
The spread between spot benzene and spot styrene prices remained largely flat after the spread had widened for three consecutive weeks. The spread between the two aromatics narrowed to 12.48 cents/lb ($275/tonne) from 12.49 cents/lb in the prior week.
In shipping news, a fixture of 12,000 tonnes of benzene was heard to have been fixed for shipment from South Korea to the US Gulf for early June loading. The arbitrage window between Asia and the US remained closed this week with the arbitrage to Europe also unworkable.
The contango for US benzene remained flat, with June and July cargoes trading close to par throughout the week.
US benzene was assessed on Friday at $2.57-2.65/ gal DDP (delivered, duty paid), compared with $2.55/gal DDP at last week's close.
Major US benzene producers include ExxonMobil, Flint Hills Resources, LyondellBasell, Marathon Petroleum, Shell and Phillips 66.