Spot styrene dips across the globe in March

Spot styrene prices across the globe have followed a downward trend for most of March, with current prices standing significantly below the early March levels in Europe, Asia and the US, as per Chemorbis. This happened despite firm crude oil prices which hovered above US$100/barrel for most of March before retreating to US$97.18/barrel in the middle of this week. After steadily decreasing over the first half of March, spot styrene prices in the three main regions have been fluctuating for the last couple of days as the massive Japan earthquake has led to a turbulent trading week causing the upstream markets to witness alternating gains and losses. In the US, the spot styrene market shed almost US$65/ton compared to the beginning of March. The downward momentum was attributed to lower benzene prices in the country. In Europe, spot styrene prices on FOB NWE basis ended last week around US$90/ton below the early March levels. Although prices inched up slightly at the start of this week in line with the benzene movement, they are still standing US$75/ton below the start of the month. Weak benzene prices and the expectations of greater supplies in March and April on speculation that imports destined for Asia might be diverted to Europe to meet better demand were the main reasons behind the drops. In Asia, until the earlier days of this week, spot styrene prices on FOB Korea basis had mainly tracked a downward trend losing as much as US$60/ton compared to the start of March. Although the Asian spot styrene market turned up on Monday on the news that a couple of styrene plants in the region were shut following the earthquake, it changed direction later due to slipping benzene and crude oil costs. Similar to Europe, Asian spot styrene prices are still noticeably lower compared to early March.
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