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US benzene spot prices have hit a 10-week high

July 21/2011

(ICIS) -- US benzene spot prices have hit a 10-week high on a combination of stronger energy prices, lower benzene production rates and position taking ahead of August contract settlements, trade sources said on Wednesday.

One aromatics broker even suggested Tropical Storm Bret, which was forecast to move away from the Bahamas earlier this week, was factored into the higher US prices.

Some US benzene and styrene producers have lowered production rates due to the seasonal lull in demand. But one benzene trader said there was talk of an upcoming turnaround in early August at a refinery in Baytown, Texas, which also could have triggered the increase. The increase also comes as styrene and benzene prices move higher in Europe.

Despite the increase overseas, European benzene prices are still below US values, which has created an open trans-Atlantic arbitrage window.

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