HOUSTON (ICIS)--US April benzene contracts settled 7 cents/gal ($21/tonne) lower, sources confirmed on Monday.
The settlement brought contracts to $2.99/gal free on board (FOB) US Gulf.
The April settlement marks the fourth consecutive month of declining benzene contract prices after they hit a 12-month high in December. Contract prices have declined by a cumulative amount of 36 cents/gal since December but nevertheless remain above the November settlement level seen prior to the December spike.
Benzene contracts were weighed down by decreasing spot prices throughout March. ICIS assessed current month spot benzene prices at average weekly price of less than $3/gal for the past three consecutive weeks, with bearish sentiment in Asia pulling down US spot prices towards the end of March.
Initial expectations had called for a larger decline in the April benzene settlement, but limited spot trading during the final week of March amid a major industry event and the Easter holidays prevented a bigger drop in the benzene settlement.
US benzene contracts usually settle on the last working day of the prior month and are heavily influenced by movements in spot prices.
Major US benzene producers include ExxonMobil, Flint Hills Resources, LyondellBasell, Marathon Petroleum, Shell and Phillips 66.