In Asia, import prices of PVC have witnessed significant increases in the past three months despite winter being the traditional slow season for the product, as per Chemorbis. According to data from ChemOrbis Price Index, spot PVC prices on a CFR China basis have seen a cumulative increase of US$160/ton over the months of December, January and February. As demand has generally been lackluster during the winter months, factors such as rising feedstock costs and limited supplies have been used by sellers to justify their price increase targets.
For the month of February, overseas sellers have already concluded their business to China with increases of US$60-80/ton when compared with the February done deal level, with most players predicting that producers will announce further increases of US$20-40/ton on their initial offers for March as Chinese players return from the New Year holidays. Expectations of better demand after the New Year holidays as well as persistently firm upstream costs will support price hike. Import offers to India from major Asian producers have already been reported close to the predicted initial price level to China. In Southeast Asia, a Thai producer has already pioneered March offers to the region with an increase of US$30/ton from their February done deal levels in line with the expected price increase announcement to China. In the region's local markets, which are still conducting February business, producers report that they have generally been successful in attaining their targeted price increase of US$40-120/ton for this month, with several producers claiming to have already sold out for this month. Demand is relatively sluggish in the region owing to the Chinese New Year holidays but so far supply limitations and cost concerns have managed to trump limited demand and ensure steady upward price movement. However, some players feel that certain factors which have recently emerged in the markets may undermine demand in the coming month. One concern is the possibility of a reversal in feedstock costs. Over the past week, spot ethylene prices in Asia have tumbled by around US$60/ton while major Japanese sellers agreed to reduce their February offers for VCM feedstock by US$20/ton earlier this week. Persistent weakness in the spot ethylene market could well lead to further erosion in spot VCM prices, thereby weakening upstream support for firmer PVC prices. In addition, crude oil and naphtha prices have shown signs of weakening recently, although buyers in China will be certain to take cognizance of any further weakening in crude oil costs before purchasing their March PVC allocations. Related to the weakness in upstream markets are questions regarding the health of the global economy, which have surfaced again recently with China planning to further tighten its monetary policy along with concerns of a possible sovereign debt crisis looming in Europe in the wake of the ongoing Greek crisis.