Benzene prices fall in Asia

11-Oct-12
Benzene in Asia was assessed at US$1240/mt FOB Korea on Wednesday, falling by three dollars per ton from a day earlier and erasing Tuesday's US$2/mt gain, as prompt demand fizzled out. Buying sentiment for November and December cargoes weakened and Chinese buyers were heard scouting for cheaper cargoes. "I feel that the market is now more focused on the US than China these days as Chinese buying sentiment is weaker," an industry source said. In the US, prompt benzene was assessed at US$1429/mt FOB USG. The market was steeply backwardated, though, with December benzene assessed at US$1272/mt FOB US Gulf Tuesday. In Europe, the prompt benzene price was assessed at US$1293/mt CIF ARA. November ICE Brent crude was assessed at US$114.49/barrel at 4:30 pm Singapore time, up US$1.97/bbl from the day before. Asian isomer-grade mixed xylene was assessed at US$1321/mt FOB Korea and US$1336/mt CFR Taiwan Wednesday, up US$3/mt from Tuesday, tracking bullish energy and downstream paraxylene markets amid thin liquidity. In plant news, China's Dragon Aromatics, also known as Tenglong Aromatics, plans to start test runs at its new PX plant in Fujian in October, which will be able to produce 800,000 tpa of PX and 115,000 tpa of benzene. Asian paraxylene was assessed at US$1550.50/mt CFR Taiwan/China Wednesday, shown in red below, up US$7/mt from Tuesday, as the market continued to be lifted by firmer crude oil futures and downstream purified terephthalic acid. The CFR China PTA price was assessed at US$1100/mt Wednesday, up US$15/mt from Tuesday. PX trading activity remained sluggish early Wednesday as many regular market participants attended a European Petrochemical Association annual meeting in Budapest. Despite firmness in the Asian PTA market Wednesday, PTA producers are suffering from negative margins at present, capping the increase in the Asian PM market. Asian styrene monomer for H2 November was assessed up a dollar day on day to US$1522/mt FOB Korea, tracking a firm rise in energy. The price remains the lowest globally, with prompt styrene in the US assessed Tuesday at US$1568/mt, and European styrene for November assessed at US$1600/mt FOB Rdam, shown in green below. Downstream, South Korea's Kumho Petrochemical plans to take its 250,000 tpa acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene and 227,000 tpa polystyrene plants at Ulsan offline for maintenance from October 15. The various lines at the ABS unit will be shut for 3-5 days each, with the total maintenance period lasting about a week, the source said, declining to provide details on the lines. The PS plant will be shut for eight days. It can make 187,000 tpa of high impact polystyrene and 40,000 tpa of general purpose polystyrene. Both units are currently running at about 90% of capacity.
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