Naphtha cracks in Asia rose to their highest level in over 6 weeks, while backwardation widened by a dollar on hopes that a cut in cracker operating rates in Japan will tighten petrochemical supply and improve prices, as per Reuters. The reduced run rates led to a recovery in ethylene prices that has propped naphtha with it. Additionally, a recovery in butadiene prices and firm buying interest from South Korea has also supported the naphtha rebound. However, market fundamentals remain weak, and traders remain skeptical that the rebound for light products would be sustained.
Unlike other years, Chinese petrochemical buyers have also not emerged to rebuild their stocks before the Lunar New Year, as export orders have been badly impacted by the global economic slowdown. On the supply side, the open arbitrage has drawn around 300,000 tons of naphtha from the West to Asia in December and January, adding to healthy exports from India as refiners cleared stocks before year end.
Price for front-month H2 January open spec naphtha rose by over ten dollars to US$905/ton.