Buying interest in Asia’s PE markets picked up this week despite the fact that Chinese market is about to shut down for the week long National Day holidays, as per Chemorbis. Most buying interest is from traders and distributors. Converters remain skeptical as to the feasibility of further price increases following the National Day holidays. Players attributed the up-tick in buying interest to higher upstream costs amid expectations that purchasing volumes will increase post-holidays to replenish inventories.
In addition to being generally tight across the globe, Asian LDPE film availability for the coming month has been further restricted by the fact that a major LDPE producer in Southeast Asia will conduct a scheduled maintenance in October. Several Middle Eastern producers are planning to reduce their October allocations to Asia, following a number of plant shutdowns in the Middle East over the past month.
LLDPE film availability is also said to be restricted throughout the region, with one Chinese trader commenting to have purchased 100 tons of South Korean LLDPE film at price they found to be quite high, as they were in urgent need of this material and could not find any more attractive offers in the market. After having little interest in imports over the past week, traders in Vietnam have become more active in the import market as they are looking to build some stocks in response to stronger purchasing activities on the part of Vietnamese converters expecting a stronger upturn in the market once Chinese buyers return to their desks in mid-October.
Increasing buying interest has helped push prices higher in both China and Southeast Asia. In the Chinese market, import offers for LDPE film posted US$20/ton increases while local offers gained CNY200-400/ton (US$30-60/ton) on the week. Offers for locally-held import HDPE and LLDPE film also gained CNY100-200/ton (US$15-30/ton) this week. In Vietnam, offers for locally-held imports gained US$15-25/ton in the LLDPE film market while rising US$52/ton on the upper end of the range in the HDPE film market. Import offers for LLDPE film also firmed up US$20-25/ton on a CIF SEA, cash equivalent basis this week while import LDPE film prices rose US$50/ton on the lower end of the range.
Another factor behind the increase in buying interest is rising upstream costs, which have fed expectations that PE prices will need to move higher over the coming weeks in order to keep up with costs. Spot ethylene prices on a CFR Northeast Asia basis shot up US$90/ton over the past week, leaving most import sellers’ offers for LLDPE and HDPE film at prices well below their theoretical cost levels and in some cases even below the prevailing spot prices for ethylene. Crude oil futures have also moved higher over the course of the past week to reach their highest levels since mid-August while spot naphtha prices on a CFR Japan basis breached the US$700/ton mark for the first time since May.