Spot styrene prices climb in global markets

10-Jul-12
Last week, styrene costs surged in global spot markets with the most visible increases being observed in Europe, as per ChemOrbis. Styrene prices also gained noticeably in Asia before the rally cooled off at the end of last week, while costs in the US posted slight weekly gains. The main trigger behind the firm trend was the previous strength in the energy complex which pushed benzene and ethylene costs up in some regions. Although July monomer contracts in Europe settled with noteworthy decreases month over month for both benzene and styrene, spot prices recorded increases in the first week of this month. Spot benzene prices rose US$45/ton on CIF NWE basis, while styrene prices were up by the same amount on FOB NWE basis when compared with the previous week. Market sources in the region attributed higher benzene offers to limited prompt availability. In Asia, spot styrene values climbed US$50/ton on FOB South Korea basis during last week before losing ten dollars early this week, as per ChemOrbis. As for benzene costs, prices rose US$50/ton with the same terms on the week. Rising prices were driven by firmer sentiment in China amidst the higher energy complex, market sources commented, which attracted buyers to the market. In addition, styrene supply remains limited as Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corp. has yet to restart one of its two production units at Mailiao. The company shut its No. 1 and No.3 styrene units in tandem with the shutdowns at the crackers of its supplier, Formosa Petrochemical following a power outage in the second half of June. The producer already restarted its No. 3 styrene unit with a 600,000 tpa capacity a few days after the outage but it plans to restart its No.1 styrene unit with 250,000 tpa capacity early this week when Formosa Petrochemical restarts its No. 3 cracker. In the US, spot styrene prices posted only small gains on the week which was attributed to low buying interest and sufficient supply despite lower production rates of around 70% on the producers’ side. The latest figures show that offers inched up by 0.15 cent/lb ($3/ton) with respect to the previous week on FOB USG basis. This was in line with mostly stable benzene costs during the past week, which only inched up 1 cent/gal (US$2.99/ton).
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