Benzene flat in Asia, climbs in US, falls in Europe

Despite strengthening benzene in USA, Asian benzene closed flat day on day Thursday at US$1176.50/mt FOB Korea on weakening demand, as per Platts. China's manufacturing activity fell to a four-month low in March, HSBC said, leading May ICE Brent crude futures to dip be over a dollar to US$123.39/barrel in Asian trade. In the US, benzene climbed to US$1237/mt FOB USG Wednesday. European benzene fell by US$3.50/mt over the same period to US$1176.50/mt CIF ARA. In other news, China's benzene imports in February grew 35% month on month to 60,487 mt, Chinese customs data released Thursday showed. Imports from South Korea grew 48% to 35,195 mt in February, contributing about 58% of China's benzene supply. Japan supplied 8,856 mt, up 51% on the month Asian styrene monomer slipped by three dollars day on day Thursday to US$1445/mt FOB Korea for H1 May as prompt demand remained sluggish and bearish data out of China pushed crude lower. China's imports of SM rose 14% in February from January to 344,776 mt as US imports almost doubled month on month to 51,103 mt, customs data released Thursday showed. Total imports inched up 0.3% on a year on year basis. The reason for the month-on-month jump in US cargo arrivals could be US producers and traders wanting to clear inventory before the end of 2011 to reduce taxation and improve balance sheets had booked cargoes before December 31, and the 6-8 week typical shipping time was pushed back by the Chinese New Year holidays in H2, a trader said. US styrene price was assessed Wednesday at US$1463/mt FOB USG, and European price for April was assessed at US$1442/mt FOB Rdam.
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