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Insight | Time: Apr 21 2021 3:18PM
Asian benzene sees crazy jump, Sinopec raises price
 
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Sinopec revised up benzene listed price by 300yuan/mt today April 21, 2021. After the adjustment, all marketing branches of Sinopec quoted at 7,300yuan/mt.

The price hike followed the jump in FOB Korea benzene. FOB Korea benzene price surged $75/mt day on day April 20 to $1,050/mt. The day-on-day jump was the biggest in 15 years. Many market participants said the rise was 鈥渃razy鈥. And the price level was the highest since Feb 2017. FOB Korea benzene-CFR Japan naphtha spread widened to $466/mt.

US benzene price hiked on Apr 19 on low inventory and recovery demand from downstream. Most styrene plants in the US have resumed normal production back from the shutdown caused by the Texas cold snap in mid-Feb.

Korea-US arbitrage window remains open. However, in the US market, benzene price has stood around $6/mt higher than styrene. Some market participants thought the further increase for benzene might be limited.

In China domestic market, East China benzene increased 225yuan/mt to 7,250yuan/mt on Apr 20, and the market continued its strong momentum on Apr 21 as Sinopec's price hike boosted market sentiment.

Benzene market fundamentals remains healthy with inventory in East China ports remaining low on less imports. According to China Customs, China imported 193.5kt of benzene in Mar, 2011, up around 70% month on month. In the first quarter, benzene imports totaled 477kt, up around 32.9% year on year. However, China's benzene import decreased since August in 2020 with the monthly average level around 139kt for the second half of 2020.

Benzene inventory increased by around 5.1kt week on week to 113.6kt in East China ports on Apr 21, according to data released by CCFGroup. This level was still considered low, and was about 140kt lower than the high of 250kt in early Aug 2020.

The inventory was expected to increase in late Apr, but may likely decrease again in May with less transactions for May arriving cargoes heard.

Considering the strong upward move in international benzene prices, rising styrene prices in China, and healthy fundamentals, China's benzene prices may likely to keep firm.

--zcf@outlook.com
[RISK DISCLAIMER] All opinions, news, analysis, prices or other information contained on this report is provided by analyst of Zhejiang Huarui Information Consulting Co., Ltd (CCFGroup) as general market commentary and does not constitute investment advice. CCFGroup will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to, any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information.
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