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  Asia: Asian BZ stronger overnight Location: Home > News > Industry

Asian benzene prices were assessed higher overnight, supported by gains in naphtha prices. The Asian naphtha prices gained $2/mt to $1,077.75/mt CFR Japan Monday. Asian benzene prices were assessed at $1,222/mt FOB Korea Monday, up $5/mt from Thursday. The US benzene price was at a nearly $43 premium to the Asian price. The European price ended last week at $1,300/mt CIF ARA, $78 above the Asian price.

In China, ex-works benzene prices Monday stood at Yuan 8,300/mt, or about $1,059/mt on an import parity basis, unchanged since April 21. According to latest Chinese customs data, the country imported 6,900 mt of benzene in March and exported 6,100 mt, compared with imports of 23,723 mt and exports of 7,743 mt a year earlier. In Japan, JX Nippon Oil & Energy nominated its May Asia contract price for benzene at $1,260/mt CFR, up $110/mt, or nearly 10%, from its April settlement of $1,150/mt. The company´s benzene production in Japan has been curtailed by an earthquake and tsunami that hit the country March 11, shutting its aromatics units at Sendai, Kashima, Kawasaki and Negishi, thus leading to about 532,000 mt/year of lost benzene output. As of Monday, the company restarted its units at Kawasaki and Negishi, or about 272,000 mt/year of production capacity. In March, Japan´s total benzene production dropped 10% month on month to 374,900 mt, which was also a nine-month low, according to data released Friday by the Japan Petrochemical Industry Association.

Asian toluene was assessed at $1,140/mt on Monday, down $1.50/mt from last week´s close. "I think most feel that GS Caltex´s Mobil toluene-to-paraxylene unit being down in June means an oversupply," said a trader on the lack of buying interest during the day. South Korean refiner GS Caltex is heard to have planned a turnaround at its unit in Yeosu in June. The unit uses 3,200 mt/day, or 1.168 million mt/year of toluene to produce 400,000 mt/year of PX and 400,000 mt/year of benzene. Another trader said a lack of motivated sellers was also keeping prices flat. The US toluene price settled last week at $1,225/mt FOB USG, $85 above the Asian price. The European toluene price was at $1,188/mt FOB Rotterdam, $37 below the US price.

The US toluene price remained at a discount to the gasoline blend value for toluene. With toluene prices at 403 cents/gal, it was more than 10 cents below blend values, which should boost interest from gasoline blenders seeking octane. The US mixed xylene spot price remained well above blend values, though. The spot xylene price was at a more than 15 cent premium to blend values for xylenes.

Asian paraxylene feel $15 overnight to $1,607/mt CFR Taiwan/China amid thin liquidity and a sharp plunge in downstream purified terephthalic acid. Discussion for PX was quiet throughout the day as PTA was traded at $1,320/mt CFR China for Taiwan origin cargoes, down $70/mt or 5% from last week. Sentiment worsened on news Monday that MCC PTA India had shut its No. 2 line last week due to a technical glitch. The four-to-six week closure at the 800,000 mt/year line will reduce the company´s PX requirement by 28,810-42,880 mt. The company was also heard to be selling its PX feedstock last week at less than $1,600/mt CFR. The falling Asian price put the US PX price at a more than $40 premium to the Asian price. The European paraxylene price settled last week at $1,600/mt FOB Rotterdam.

At the end of last week, production margins for aromatics in the US were climbing toluene prices fell. Toluene disproportionation margins, which had turned negative just a week ago, rebounded to $33.70. The margin for MSTDP units climbed to $155. Toluene hydrodealkylation margins remained negative, but were trending higher.

 

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