Global styrene markets move south on weaker oil prices

Spot styrene markets moved south on a global scale over the week with Asian market witnessing the largest decrease, as per Chemorbis. Steadily weakening energy costs, which weighed down on spot benzene costs in major markets including Europe, Asia and the US, were deemed as the main reason behind the bearish trend for styrene monomer. Crude oil prices plunged nearly US$2.50/barrel week over week on the NYMEX. Moreover, the settlement on Friday represented a sharp decrease of US$7/barrel in a month. Styrene markets fluctuated during the first couple of weeks of 2012 before turning up in early February in Asia. The European styrene market started the year on a bearish note before rebounding soon by mid-January. After following a steady to firmer path since then, prices turned down in the last week of February. The US market had been on a firming note since the second half of January until prices declined last week. In Asia, styrene costs reached the lowest level of 2012 on Monday this week owing to the bearish path of benzene. Spot benzene costs declined US$30/ton just from Friday on FOB South Korea basis bringing the cumulative drop to US$55/ton week over week. The latest values also indicated a US$50/ton fall from a month ago. Constantly weakening benzene costs pushed the spot styrene market down, while market sources pointed to lower domestic offers and increased stock levels in China as the other triggers behind the bearish note. Spot styrene prices on FOB South Korea basis were down US$120/ton on the week with US$65/ton of this decrease being recorded at the beginning of this week. The latest figures stand US$110/ton below a month ago levels. In Europe, lower upstream costs pushed spot benzene prices down by US$30/ton on the week and US$45/ton in a month on CIF NWE basis. The spot styrene market followed suit with offers on FOB NWE basis losing US$60/ton on the week to stand US$60/ton below a month ago. Although spot styrene costs extended their losses in the region, March styrene contracts settled up €27/ton at the end of last week. The US market tracked the trend in Europe as spot benzene prices on FOB USG basis moved down by 7 cents/gal (US$21/ton) on the week and 14 cents/gal (US$42/ton) in a month. The styrene market declined 2 cents/lb (US$45/ton) last week despite ongoing tightness stemming from scheduled shutdowns at several styrene producers. The latest levels indicated a slight drop of 0.35 cent/lb (US$7/ton) from early February.
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