Asia's naphtha intermonth spreads returned to premiums on Thursday for the first time in three weeks on tighter supplies. Naphtha margins jumped nearly 21.5% to reach their highest in a month of US$51.45/ton premium, as per Reuters. Front-month H1-August naphtha price was at US$745.50 and H1-September at US$744.50.
"The market continues to react to a stronger European market and news that Formosa about to restart its crackers," said a trader. Europe naphtha margins received a boost after refiners cut runs to combat poor margins. These run cuts have also affected Asia as that meant fewer barrels will be shipped out of Europe to the East, which is structurally short of naphtha. Formosa, Asia's top naphtha buyer, is expected to restart two of its three crackers at its 2.93 mln tpa complex from next week after an outage caused them to shut.
End users' spot demand has also bolstered sellers' sentiment. Honam Petrochemical bought around 25,000 tons of naphtha for H1-August arrival at Daesan at premiums of about US$1/ton to Japan spot quotes on a cost-and-freight (C&F) basis. The purchase came just a day after LG Chem and Titan had bought up to 80,000 tons of naphtha, also for H1-August arrival. "There is a general feeling that the petrochemicals market is improving. But that said, there's also a lot of volatility that we have to grapple with," said another trader.