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Asian phenol prices are likely to trend higher in the coming weeks

April 01/2011

(ICIS) -- Asian phenol prices are likely to trend higher in the coming weeks, bolstered by rare spot purchases by quake-ravaged Japan and regional plant maintenance, as well as firm downstream demand, market players said on Friday. Stubbornly high feedstock prices, both propylene and benzene alike, also led to rising prices, they added.

In the week ended 25 March, phenol prices were assessed as USD1.920-1.950/tonne (EUR 1.344-1.365/tonne) cost and freight (CFR) China Main Port versus USD 1.810-1.840/tonne CFR CMP a month ago, according to ICIS data.

Compounding the situation, the trade flow has reversed with Japan switching to a spot phenol buyer from a net exporter. No spot shipments were seen from Japan after the devastating earthquake last month, traders said.

Japan has made an unusual spot purchase of 10 KT of phenol from China, Taiwan and South Korea for delivery in April, amid production turmoil in the aftermath of the 11 March disaster.

Japan is expected to continue buying phenol on the spot market from April to June, a move that would fuel prices further.

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