Price trends of oil, polymer feedstock and commodity polymers in Asia for the week of August 4, 2008

CRUDE OIL Slowing global economic growth has affected fuel demand, particularly from the largest oil consuming nation USA. However, even as fuel demand dipped in the USA, a weekly report indicated that gasoline stocks in the country declined. This led to a net increase in oil values of about 2 dollars. Rising by about 1.5%, crude oil futures for September delivery ended the week of August 4, 2008 at US$125 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. NAPHTHA Lackluster downstream markets has kept naphtha prices down at US$1060/MT in Asia in the week of August 4, 2008. Recording a down adjustment of about twenty dollars, open spec naphtha for 2H-September delivery ended the week at US$1060/MT CFR Japan. ETHYLENE Ethylene prices plunged to US$1490/MT levels in Asia in the week of August 4, 2008. A close to hundred dollar dip has ensued this week in Asia as markets remained downcast on quiet demand from PE producers. An August shipment deal was heard concluded at US$1490/MT CFR Taiwan. General selling offers were targeted at lows of US$1550/MT CFR Asia, but were met with unresponsive buying sentiments keeping bids in the US$1400/MT FOB Korea. CFR Asia ethylene prices for August delivery were gauged at less than US$1500/MT. PROPYLENE Propylene prices in Asia plummeted to US$1590/MT in the week of August 4, 2008. A slow down in market sentiments and restriction in movement of material has maintained a healthy stock level with the Chinese buyers, affecting demand. Deficient sentiments from Chinese buyers have kept FOB Korea propylene bids below US$1580/MT. VCM As buyers and sellers wait for price adjustment before they conclude deals, lack of movement in the markets has kept VCM prices stagnant at US$1000/MT in Asia in the week of August 4, 2008. Sellers' offers for August shipment were heard at levels above US$1100/MT CFR China, but were met with resistance from buyers, who have currently pegged bids hundred dollars lower. It is estimated that August prices will be concluded upto fifty dollars higher, and deals would be concluded up to US$1050/MT levels. EDC EDC prices in Asia have dimmed to US$520/MT in the week of August 4, 2008, as buyers opted to adopt a wait and watch policy. As upstream ethylene prices have plunged this week by over hundred dollars, buyers prefer to defer buying decisions in expectation of a down adjustment in EDC prices. As very few deals neared conclusion in the week, market prices were gauged down by twenty dollars. STYRENE MONOMER Declining demand from buyers has affected a seventy dollar plunge in Styrene Monomer prices. FOB Korea deals for September have dipped to US$1510/MT on moderate demand from buyers. Feedstock benzene prices also saw a downward movement in the week to US$1270/MT FOB Korea for September shipment. POLYMERS HDPE Shrunken demand from the buyers in China has maintained quiet market conditions in Asia, affecting an HDPE price dip to US$1820/MT in the week of August 4, 2008. Typical offers for August shipment from Asia and Middle East lingered at US$1860/MT levels CFR China, but were met with buyer's resistance as their intentions stood twenty dollars lower. Market sentiments for injection grade were even softer, with CFR China prices ranging around US$1750/MT. LDPE LDPE prices registered a marginal hike to US$1950/MT in Asia in the week of August 4, 2008. CFR China August offers quoted by most suppliers in Asia ranged from lows of US$1930 to highs of US$1960/MT, while those form the Middle East hovered around US$1940/MT and at US$ 1970/MT from South Korea. LLDPE Subdued demand from China has kept LLDPE prices lower at US$1845/MT in Asia in the week of August 4, 2008. Though most August offers from Asian sellers lingered around US$1875/MT CFR China, most deals were concluded about thirty dollars lower. CFR China offers for August from Taiwan loitered at US$1920/MT and from South Korea at US$1875/MT. PP As domestic prices in China plunged due to weakening demand, a gloomy market outlook prevailed in Asian polypropylene markets. PP prices dipped to US$1950/MT in Asia in the week of August 4, 2008. Few deals were heard concluded from South Korean suppliers at lows of US$1920/MT CFR China. Though August offers from the Middle East ranged ten dollars around US$1940/MT, similar cargoes from a trader were heard being offered below US$1880/MT, CFR China for August delivery. PVC PVC prices dropped to US$1300/MT in Asia in the week of August 4, 2008. As the domestic markets of China have slowed down on production and transportation curbs until the Beijing Olympics, a further deterioration has been seen in PVC demand. Propped by better demand and better price realization from Middle East and other non Asian destinations, most key suppliers continue to divert cargoes. So, even as Chinese demand remains listless, offers from Asia remained firm on the strength of robust demand from non Asian countries. Even as CFR CMP offers dipped below US$1300/MT, and August deals ranged uptil US$1320/MT FOB Korea/Japan, CFR Middle East cargoes commanded a premium of almost hundred dollars. PS Dipping feedstock values and pessimistic sentiments from the processors have pushed GPPS prices down to US$1725/MT in Asia in the week of August 4, 2008. This almost thirty dollar dip can be attributed to lackluster market sentiments. Typical CFR China offers for GPPS grade were brought down to US$1740/MT for August shipment, even as buying interest continued to range at US$1710/MT. ABS A plunge in feedstock Styrene Monomer prices weakened market demand, getting ABS prices down to US$2190/MT in Asia in the week of August 4, 2008. CFR China offers from South Korean and Taiwanese producers dipped to lows of US$2200/MT. ABS market outlook is gloomy both in the domestic Chinese markets as well as for imports into the country. Cargoes remained unsold as traders consider the pessimistic market sentiments and the not so bright market outlook. Several ABS production lines are mulling a shutdown or are reducing operating rates. Sinopec Shanghai Gaoqiao Petrochemical Co. has announced a maintenance shutdown and stopped production at one of its lines at its ABS plant. The company has also reduced run rates at two production lines to 70-80%. Taiwan's Chi Mei is also operating ABS plant at about 70% capacity.
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