Asian PET slips despite relatively firm feedstock costs

PET prices have moved south over the past week in Asia as sellers in the export market as well as the domestic Chinese market elected to reduce prices due to weakening demand as the traditionally high season has started to ebb as per Chemorbis. Looking at the export market, South Korean PET offers recorded decreases over the past week, retreating by US$10-20/ton on FOB Busan, cash basis. Despite buyers' claims that lower prices are available in other global markets, most Korean producers tried to maintain their offer levels, highlighting that they are not under substantial stock pressure. However, producer's firm stance on their prices was not sufficient to maintain a steady pricing trend given limited buying interest. Chinese producers’ export PET offers showed similar decreases on FOB China basis last week. Producers stepped back on their offers to bring their offers closer in line with the prevailing buy ideas, although most buyers are still looking for prices US$20-50/ton below the current export offers. Despite the wide gap between buy and sell ideas, most producers are standing their ground, unwilling to offer further price decreases as main feedstocks MEG and PTA held relatively firm on the week. Spot PX prices recorded a US$10/ton decrease on CFR NEA basis following the previous week’s US$45/ton drop. However, sentiment reportedly improved towards the end of the week on the back of the recovery observed in crude oil prices. Meanwhile, spot PTA and MEG prices gained US$10/ton on the week on a CFR China, cash basis. Players attributed these slight increases to stronger oil and equity markets as well as buyers’ expectations that prices will continue to firm up in the days ahead. In China’s domestic market, the overall offer range from producers stepped back by CNY200-250/ton (US$30-37/ton) on the week due to poor sales. Despite these decreases, producers failed to generate better buying interest as they could achieve only a limited number of deals for small volumes. Meanwhile, distributors said that they are trying to get rid of the materials they have in hand as they do not hold an optimistic view regarding the future direction of the market. On the buyers’ side, converters are shying away from making new purchases, pointing to their softer than expected end product businesses and lower operating rates. Plus, the recent start-up of Zhejiang Hengyi new 250,000 tpa PET plant has intensified the already bearish market sentiment inside the country. Now, mostly a stable outlook is anticipated for the Asian PET market although some small discounts are likely to be obtainable for buyers willing to make purchases.
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