HOUSTON (ICIS)–US March benzene contracts settled 5 cents/gal ($15/tonne) lower at $3.06/gal free on board (FOB) US Gulf, sources confirmed on Thursday.
Benzene contract prices have declined for three consecutive months, posting a cumulative decrease of 29 cents/gal from December, which was the highest settlement over the past 12 months.
The decrease was in line with participants’ initial expectations that contract prices would settle around $3.05-3.06/gal.
The decline in the contract price mirrored weaker prices in the spot market in February, with average spot prices remaining below the February contract value of $3.11/gal throughout most of the month.
Spot prices dipped below the $3/gal threshold in mid-February, tracking a decline in crude oil futures and US equity markets. Prices moved back above the $3/gal threshold later in the month as energy and stock markets recovered, but they remained below the February contract value.
Deals have been done this week in the range of $3.06-3.075/gal delivered duty paid (DDP) for March and at $3.06-3.08/gal for April.
US benzene contracts usually settle on the last working day of the prior month and are heavily influenced by movements in spot prices.
Major US benzene producers include ExxonMobil, Flint Hills Resources, LyondellBasell, Marathon Petroleum, Shell and Phillips 66.