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Thursday, August 11, 2022

NWE styrene premium to benzene dips below $400/mt, first time since mid-April

The Northwest European styrene premium to its feedstock benzene fell below $400/mt Monday for the first time since April 13, as global styrene prices slid.

Styrene was assessed at $1,068.50/mt FOB ARA Monday, down $14/mt from Friday, while benzene was assessed at $677.50/mt CIF ARA Monday, down $1/mt.

This placed the spread between the two prices at $391/mt in Europe.

Weakness in the European market reflected lower prices globally.

On Monday, the CFR China price was assessed at $1,047.50/mt down $21.50/mt and the FOB US Gulf price was assessed at 45.75 cents/lb ($1,008/mt) Monday, falling 0.50 cents/lb ($11/mt).

On Tuesday, Asian prices continued to spiral downwards and the CFR China price was assessed at $1,034/mt, down $13.50/mt.

A styrene source based in Europe said Tuesday that there was “not a lot of demand” in the European market at the moment, adding that many styrene buyers were in no rush to buy product as they had enough inventories.

A second source said Monday that Shell’s POSM-1 unit which is currently on turnaround is expected to start up this week, which will ease supply.

The first source added that weaker sentiment upstream had also placed downward pressure on styrene prices.

Front-month ICE Brent futures closed at $43.63/barrel on Monday, down from $45.37/b on Friday.

Despite crude falling sharply Monday, benzene prices were rangebound.

Sources said this week that spot activity in the benzene market had quietened following the May contract price negotiations at the end of April.

On Tuesday, bid-offer ranges for May in the benzene market was heard at $672-678/mt, a narrower range from $670-690/mt heard Monday.

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