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Asia Styrene Monomer-benzene Price Spread Narrows to 3-month

Release Date:2014-06-19 |
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The price spread in Asia between styrene monomer and its main feedstock benzene fell to a three-month low of $284/mt on Tuesday, as benzene supply has tightened while SM supply has increased, Platts data showed. 

The FOB Korea benzene price jumped $10/mt to $1,280/mt Tuesday from Monday, while SM prices edged up a modest $4/mt to $1,564/mt FOB Korea and $1,590/mt CFR China. 

The last time the spread was lower than this level was on March 3, when it was assessed at $276.50/mt. 

The SM-benzene spread rose to its highest level so far this year on March 18 at $388.50/mt, amid the turnaround season for SM plants in Asia. But it has since slipped nearly 27% to its current level following the end of the maintenance season and the restart of a 350,000 mt/year SM plant in South Korea. 

In late April, South Korea's SK Global Chemical started up its previously idled 350,000 mt/year SM plant at Ulsan, adding more supply to the market, Platts had reported. 

Inventory levels of SM in the key consumer market of China also remain high -- last week, stocks were around 149,000 mt, up 134.6% from 63,500 mt in the same week last year, Platts data showed. 

Meanwhile, benzene inventory levels in the key producing country of South Korea were low due to lower operating rates at some plants, market sources previously noted. 

Furthermore, in China's domestic market, benzene prices have been firming, lending support to import activity. 

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