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in China over January 31-February 6, factories and plants
lower operating rates and some shut down completely due
to a shortage of workers and low demand.

Japan’s JX settled Feb benzene ACP
at $1,350/mt CFR, down $3/mt from Jan
Tokyo — Japan’s largest refiner, JX Nippon Oil & Energy,
has concluded its February Asian Contract Price for benzene
at $1,350/mt CFR, down $3/mt from its January settlement,
a company source said Wednesday. The settlement for
February was down $40/mt from its nomination for that
month. The settlement for January, at $1,353/mt, had
been up $33/mt from the December settlement. Asian
benzene spot prices have been pushed up in the first half
of January due to strong demand from the US where prices
reached an all-time high of $5.53/gal ($1,653.47/mt) FOB
US Gulf Coast on January 15, as inventory remained low
and market participants were covering short positions,
Platts reported earlier. Asian benzene prices hit a 10-month
high of $1,368.50/mt FOB Korea on January 15. However,
the bullishness has since then lost momentum, along with
weaker overseas prices, with FOB Korea assessed at $1,329/
mt on Wednesday.

European styrene producers mull run rates
cut due to squeezed margins: sources
London — Deteriorating production margins could
force European styrene producers to cut operation rates in
coming weeks, sources said Wednesday. The spread between
the spot price of styrene monomer and its feedstock

Copyright © 2014, McGraw Hill Financial

january 29, 2014

benzene dropped to $227/mt, Platts data showed, just $13/
mt short of the eight-month low hit January 16. Sources
have said producers require a spread of around $250/mt
to break even. “If we do not succeed in pushing through
the raw materials increase for next month, we will adapt
the run rates,” a producer said. The margins are again
under pressure as the benzene market retains strength
on the back of the tight prompt availability and firm US
prices, whereas the length in styrene has become more
pronounced. Benzene was last assessed at $1,448/mt CIF
ARA Wednesday. Meanwhile, styrene spot price was last
assessed at $1,675/mt FOB ARA, and was expected to come
under increasing pressure in the coming weeks as some
consumers’ storage tanks are reportedly overflowing with
material, sources said. In addition, the recent restart of
Total’s Gonfreville, Lower Normandy, styrene unit is likely
to add to the market length, sources said.

US propane, propylene stocks
drop 3.58 million barrels on week: EIA
Houston — US propane and propylene stocks fell 3.58
million barrels to 31.674 million barrels for the reporting
week ended January 24, Energy Information Administration
data showed Wednesday. Gulf Coast stocks saw a draw of
1.43 million barrels to fall to 18.63 million barrels. Midwest
stocks fell 1.4 million barrels to 8.8 million barrels, while
East Coast stocks saw a 595,000-barrel draw to 2.62 million
barrels. Implied demand for propane and propylene was
1.65 million b/d, down 93,000 b/d from the prior week.
January Gulf Coast propane was over 8 cents higher from
Tuesday on the report, trading at $1.6050/gal.