Reflecting weaker sentiment, spot paraxylene (PX) prices dropped almost 12% in the past month and breached the psychologically mark of US$1000/ton, as most end-user requirements for the month of March has been covered, as per ICIS. Paraxylene parcels for H2-Feb and March delivery were assessed at three month lows of US$1000-1010/ton CFR Taiwan/China.
A pre-holiday lull in buying has also fuelled panic among PX traders, making them very anxious to liquidate long positions ahead of the week-long festivity. Nippon Oil’s withdrawal of a 20,000-ton sell-tender for H1/H2 March lifting, after deeming bids as being too low, also highlighted the lack of buying interest in PX from traders and end-users.
Benzene and toluene markets in Asia have also been on a downtrend in the past two weeks, pressured by high supply and weakening demand in this region. Demand for toluene has softened ahead of the Lunar New Year break next week, while benzene demand was also expected to decline from February due to the start of a turnaround season in key downstream styrene monomer (SM) units in this region. Supply has increased as crackers, reformers, toluene disproportionation (TDP) and hydro-dealkylation (HDA) units have been operating at almost full load on the back of good margins.