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US December benzene contract price settles 8 cents higher at 231 cents/gal: sources

Houston — The December US benzene contract price was heard to have settled higher this week, rising 8 cents compared with November's CP to 231 cents/gal, multiple sources told S&P Global Platts Monday.

The increase was in line with market expectations as spot values were seen trading in the low-230s cents/gal.

Sources said the US benzene market was likely to face continued pressure in December amid weaker demand from the downstream styrene segment.

Styrene prices have been talked at less than $800/mt and margins were further dented by the strength of the December benzene CP as some styrene producers were heard to have cut rates.

Some participants posited there would be a tighter benzene market in December and the new year due to a reduction in exports from South Korea in October and November plus seasonal refinery maintenance in the first quarter of 2020.

Still there was unconfirmed talk of planned maintenance by US styrene producers and sources said Asian paraxylene and polyethylene terephthalate markets could also impact fundamentals.

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

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, newsdesk@spglobal.com

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