China’s textile and garment industry exports in June totaled to US$14 bln, rising 13% from export levels of May, but 10% below a year ago levels. Confidence has increased that textile and garment exports to the West will increase with larger orders for the next season as a result of a start in the economic recovery process globally. Market optimism coupled with increase in bank loans taken by players in the polyester market in H2-July have resulted in increased run rates in polyester plants in China. The upcoming Canton Trade Fair that includes textiles and garments is also scheduled for end-October and could result in large business transactions.
Feedstock costs have spiked: Benzene has soared past US$900/ton FOB Korea for the week ending 7 August, according to ICIS pricing - a $55/ton increase. Naphtha was at US$650/ton CFR Japan. Toluene was at US$905-915/ton FOB Korea and mixed xylenes (MX) at US$835/ton FOB Korea.
As per ICIS, deep refinery operating rate cutbacks in China in Q4-08 created a benzene supply constraint that resulted in increased imports to 507,000 tons in January-June compared with about 328,000 tons for the year 2008. Meanwhile, inventory levels remain high – at 43,000 tons for benzene in July and at 53,000 tons for toluene this month. The overall spreads between mixed MX and paraxylene (PX) look healthy.
PX supply has also been tight on several delayed start-ups in China and limited availability from Japan due to reluctance on part of Japanese producers to raise PX rates on poor economics. Purified terephthalic acid (PTA) producers been able to absorb rising costs of PX, and have been at US$1120-1130/ton CFR China in first week August.