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US, Euro Oct benzene contract prices rise, Asia softens on output gain

HOUSTON, September 29, 2017 (PCW) – Global benzene contract prices were largely higher in October as spot values softened amid rising production and weaker downstream demand.

The US October benzene contract price came in at 274 cpg ($819/mt) and 275 cpg ($822/mt), up from the split settlement of 262 cpg ($793/mt) and 269 cpg ($804/mt), in August. The Asia Contract Price for October settled at $795/mt (266 cpg) CFR Asia, down $15/mt from September. The European October contract rose €16/mt from September at €671/mt ($790/mt or 264 cpg) CIF NWE.

During the month, global values slumped on lower downstream demand and the onset of new production in China. Spot Asian values fell $18/mt, or 2.2%, during the month, while European prices shed $10/mt (1.3%). US spot values declined 11.5 cpg or 4.2%. Front-month Brent, however, rose $4.66/bbl, or 8.8%.

Looking forward, however, the supply/demand balance in Europe tightened significantly at the end of September given various unplanned outages and a lack of imports due to rail and shipping logistical issues, which could continue to plague the market in October. In the US, the slow restart of a slew of large refineries post-Harvey kept supply tight even as the bulk of downstream styrene units ran at normal, or at least reduced, rates. -- Samantha Hartke

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