Spot styrene prices have been following an upward trend in Europe since the first half of February. The expectations of better demand in March versus dwindling supplies across the region can be considered as the reasons behind the firming trend, as per Chemorbis. After slipping slightly in the first week of February, spot styrene prices in Europe posted incremental increases in the following weeks of the month in line with the firmer crude oil and benzene costs, with the total increase amount reaching US$140/ton compared to the lowest figure seen in early February. After breaching the US$90/barrel threshold in the early days of February due to the political turmoil in Egypt, NYMEX crude oil prices maintained a firm trend, hovering mainly above US$85/barrel since then. Now, due to the recent political unrest in Libya, which accounts for 2% of the worldwide oil production, crude oil prices have started to come under renewed upward pressure. Following these developments, spot styrene prices for March were heard even higher, indicating a further US$20-25/ton increase over the earlier level, according to market sources.
Gaining support from the strong oil market, benzene prices also rose significantly this month. Prices moved up more than US$45/ton above the early February levels in Europe. Plus, maintenance season is approaching for crackers across Europe on top of the existing supply outages at a couple of West European producers.