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Petrochemicals

US styrene market flips into contango structure on strong buy interest

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US styrene market flips into contango structure on strong buy interest

Houston β€” US spot styrene values have moved higher in February as a contango market structure has emerged due to strong buy interest for March material, sources told S&P Global Platts this week.

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Prompt spot styrene prices have risen $30 since the beginning of February and were up $100 since the beginning of the year, last assessed Tuesday at $990/mt FOB USG.

Prices have risen amid a planned maintenance by a US producer as America's Styrenics went into a 45-day turnaround in late January, several sources said. Additionally a second US producer was expected to go into maintenance in at some point in March though details and confirmation were not immediately available.

These outages, coupled with several planned outages in Asia during late Q1 and Q2, have resulted in increased buy interest in the US which has pushed February pricing higher. February was last assessed Tuesday at $990/mt FOB USG while $980/mt was heard traded twice late last week at $980/mt FOB USG.

"The $980 is no longer there," a source said, adding that sellers had backed off.

Sources Wednesday talked February pricing notionally at $980-$1,000/mt FOB USG while March was talked notionally at $1,000-$1,020/mt FOB USG. Buying interest remained strong with one seller noting that he had fielded numerous inquiries within the past week. Additionally, sources noted that stronger Asian pricing lent support to US values. The Platts CFR Taiwan marker was last assessed at $1,088/mt as inventory levels in China were talked at near record-high levels. The CFR India price was last assessed at $1,079/mt.

Styrene production costs rose in February as the month's benzene contract moved higher. US February benzene contracts were heard settled up 10 cents from January to 193 cents/gal/ With ethylene contracts falling a half cent in January to 28.75 cents/lb, styrene margins on a spot basis were estimated at near $293/mt, according to Platts data.

--Kevin Allen, kevin.allen@spglobal.com

--Edited by Richard Rubin, richard.rubin@spglobal.com

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