European benzene's premium to naphtha slipped to a 3.5 month low at the end of last week as benzene failed to keep pace with strengthening upstream markets, as per Platts. The spread between spot benzene and its feedstock naphtha was assessed at US$363.75/mt at Friday's close. Spot benzene barges were last assessed at US$1268/mt CIF ARA, around US$150/mt below the average price of benzene in the April-June period. NWE naphtha meanwhile rose to a four-month high at US$904.25/mt CIF ARA, lifted by the buoyant gasoline market.
Benzene-naphtha spread was assessed lower was March 28, when it dipped to US$349/mt, as downstream styrene and phenol turnarounds contributed to oversupply on the European benzene market. The current level is more than US$250/mt down from the spread's peak at the end of April, when it hit a ten-month high at US$615/mt on April 23. The sharp correction in spot benzene prices at the end of June was due to a combination of factors including persisting weak demand for some benzene derivatives, restarts of benzene producing capacities after turnarounds and fixtures from the US. Sources said around 30,000 mt of material of US and Brazilian origin is expected to arrive in Europe in late July.