Naphtha prices in Asia rise to 9 week highs, cracks at 6 week highs

Naphtha price in Asia rose to over nine-week highs, while cracks rose to around a six week high. These increases echo the strength in Europe on stronger demand, as per Reuters, and most traders are not convinced that Asian fundamentals have improved. Ample stocks and weaker overall demand raise doubts about an improvement in Asian markets. Also, physical naphtha timespreads continue to be negative, indicating that the Asian market has not improved. The main reason the market attributes the stronger cracks is due to Europe, where naphtha is needed for gasoline blending. However, Japan, has not been buying August spot cargoes could be expected to emerge from its hiatus. Several oil refiners in Japan have halted marine product shipments from at least nine plants as a powerful typhoon approaches. This coincides with a shutdown by Japan's top oil refiner JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp’s 60,000 bpd No.3 vacuum distillation unit after the a fire along with lowering of crude runs at a 150,000 bpd crude unit. But these two incidents may not have an immediate, nor direct impact on naphtha supplies for now. South Korea's S-Oil has sold 33,000 tons of light naphtha for Aug. 21-31 loading at a discount of about US$2.50/ton to Japan spot quotes on a free-on-board (FOB) basis. The price for front-month H1-September open spec naphtha rose by ten dollars to US$987/ton, while cracks gained almost six dollars to US$110.55/ton premium, highest since June 1.
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