Aromatics prices in Asia dip

Asian benzene fell by US$21/mt from July 6 to close at US$1123/mt FOB Korea July 9, deflating a US$92/mt surge the previous week, as per Platts. September benzene in the US was assessed at 397 cents/gal FOB USGC (US$1187.03/mt) July 6, only US$59/mt above the August assessment for benzene in South Korea. With freight rates at US$50/mt, traders were cautious about moving further vessels to the US. "[Benzene] derivative demand in the US is not good," one trader said, noting that although styrene prices had moved up, the outlook for benzene was weak. Prompt US benzene price was assessed July 6 at US$1357/mt FOB USG. The European benzene price was assessed at US$1248/mt CIF ARA. CFR Taiwan/China paraxylene price was assessed July 9 at US$1333.50/mt, down by four dollars from July 6. The Asian PX market kicked off July 9 on a weaker note, pressured by a sharp drop in Western crude oil benchmarks July 6. The drop in price, though, was limited by potential strengthening demand for paraxylene. PX demand is seen to increase from August as a new purified terephthalic acid plant is scheduled to be started up. China's Zhejiang Yisheng Petrochemical plans to start up its new 1.8 mln tpa PTA in Hainan around September. Styrene monomer for H2 August in Asia was assessed two dollars lower at US$1360/mt FOB Korea, on the back of lower crude oil and feedstock benzene prices. One trader said there was a "total lack of direction and confidence" in the market.
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