NWE Spot Benzene Prices Spike $45/mt Amid US Production Fears17 Jan 2011 • by Natalie Aster
Spot Northwest European benzene prices spiked by $45/mt early Friday morning, responding to a climb in US Gulf Coast prices on reports of production issues, according to sources.
Early price indications showed that bid levels were at $1,225/mt for 1,000 metric ton January barges -- compared to Thursday's closing assessment of $1,190/mt -- with sellers heard initially at $1,250/mt, before bringing offers down to $1,235/mt
Most sources saw February at similar levels and although there were initial reports that February bids were $5/mt lower than January, it was February that was first heard traded, with Total confirming buying at $1,230/mt and a second trade also heard done at the same level.
According to sources, the increase followed a strong rise in the US Gulf Coast market, where January trade was heard done at 410 cents/gallon ($1,226/mt).
According to European sources, the US Gulf Coast spiked on the back of tightness as sources reported unconfirmed production issues and possible force majeure at one of ExxonMobil's two Mississippi River aromatics units and the delayed arrival of Asian cargoes.
Following the trades done at $1,230/mt, prices fell away slightly with offers coming down to $1,220/mt for January and February.
One source said: "Obviously the market was very firm, but as soon as $1,230/mt got done the offers piled in."
The same source added that buyers had stepped away to wait for the opening of the US Gulf Coast market.
"A lot of people are now waiting for the US to open and to see what it does," the source said.