Macroeconomic worries are affecting confidence in benzene and styrene markets, forcing demand and prices down, as per ICIS. Benzene contracts saw the greatest decline, falling by €118/ton (US$156/ton) from the previous month to €701/ton FOB (free on board) NWE (Northwest Europe).
In general, outlook for the rest of 2011 remains glum, amid ideas of end-of-year destocking. Downstream, styrene contracts fell between €75-85/ton to €1,086-1,133/ton FD (free delivered) NEW for October. Bearish sentiment and careful inventory management ahead of the year-end is expected to keep buying interest for European styrene muted for the rest of this year. US aromatics markets are also facing the same uncertain outlook, falling since early August, on a combination of weaker crude, lower stock markets and slowing demand. The weakening fundamentals led US benzene contracts for October to fall by US$204/ton to US$3.33/gal FOB and also forced benzene spot prices to hit a 10-month low of US$3.30-3.35/gal FOB on September 23. Market players expect the US September styrene contract to settle in early October at either a rollover or a decline because of a drop in September benzene contracts.