Price trends of oil, polymer feedstock and commodity polymers in Asia for the week of January 5, 2009

CRUDE OIL Crude oil ended the week of January 5, 2009 at a higher note. Light, sweet crude for February delivery rose to US$47 on the New York Mercantile Exchange as tensions mounted when Israel amplified a ground offensive against Hamas militants in Gaza. Thousands of Israeli troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships surrounded Gaza's largest city and fought Hamas militants at close range Sunday, with attacks ranging from air strikes to artillery shelling and ground fighting. Oil prices are likely to rise in the short term as this entry of Israelis into Gaza has increased fears of the possibility of a wider Middle East conflict along with OPEC's pledge to cut output by 4 mln bpd since October. An attack on an oil pipeline in South Nigeria has also helped shore up prices. NAPHTHA Naphtha prices have moved up in tandem with rising crude oil prices in the week of January 5, 2009. Open-spec naphtha for closed at about US$350/MT CNF Japan. ETHYLENE Ethylene markets of Asia gained strength on restricted supplies and limited buying as most players retreated from the markets on account of Christmas and New Year week. At the end of week of January 5, 2009, ethylene prices firmed up to US$585/MT CFR Asia. The market awaits seller's offers, but has firmed up on robust downstream buying sentiments. January is expected to be a healthy month for ethylene on improving demand for PE and MEG amid restricted avails. PROPYLENE Propylene prices firmed up with strengthening downstream demand from China in the week of January 5, 2009. January shipment propylene prices moved up to US$505/MT FOB Korea as downstream demand from China surfaced before the onset of the Lunar New Year holidays. In SE Asia, CFR prices rose to the 600 dollar mark on strengthening downstream demand. STYRENE MONOMER In the week of January 5, 2009 it seems that styrene monomer price dip has finally been arrested. SM prices ended the week at US$585/MT CFR China, finally moving north in Asia. Buyers from China continue to maintain an interest for H2 January and H1 February deliveries at US$575/MT, with selling intentions pegged almost 20-25 dollars higher. In the next few weeks, SM prices are expected to hold in view of marginal recovery in downstream markets. EDC Improving upstream ethylene markets and recovering downstream VCM and PVC markets have steadied sentiments for EDC in Asia in the week of January 5, 2009. Market sentiments have maintained EDC prices at US$125/MT CFR China in Asia despite the expected arrival of cheap deep-sea cargoes from USA being offered below US$120/MT. VCM A boost in downstream PVC prices and demand in China, have boosted VCM prices in Asia to US$525/MT CFR China in the week of January 5, 2009. POLYMERS HDPE January shipment HDPE offers were sustained above US$860/MT CFR China as ethylene prices strengthened. CFR China offers from producers from South Korea rose to US$875/MT and from Taiwan by another 20 dollars. Deals were concluded at US$860/MT, but there were no takers at higher prices. LDPE LDPE prices sustained themselves as ethylene prices rose in the week of January 5, 2009. Deals have been concluded at last week's US$875/MT CFR China. The market expects added momentum as the New Year holidays have ended. LLDPE Despite higher feedstock ethylene prices, LLDPE prices dipped to US$865/MT in Asia in the week of January 5, 2009. After the players came back to the markets from the New Year break, offers for February shipment have crossed the US$900/MT mark. POLYPROPYLENE Polypropylene prices have steadied at last week's US$785/MT in Asia in the week of January 5, 2009. The markets witnessed low momentum on account of the Christmas and New Year break. As stockpiles are beginning to decline with Chinese producers, PP prices are expected to pick up. POLY VINYL CHLORIDE PVC prices moved up to US$640/MT in Asia in the week of January 5, 2009 as demand from China picks up. Rising input costs have also propped up prices. GPPS Polystyrene prices have dipped to US$710/MT in Asia in the week of January 5, 2009 as a result of feeble demand from China. Perception by traders that the polystyrene markets of Asia have bottomed out has boosted offers up to US$750/MT CFR China. However, Chinese buyers prefer to abstain from stockpiling before the start of the Lunar New Year holidays. ABS Downcast downstream demand has weakened ABS market in Asia amid another plunge in feedstock butadiene prices. After the fall in butadiene values, key South Korean and Taiwanese producers have reduced CFR China offers to US$1070/MT, with lows ranging at US$1035/MT. Minor deals for January shipment were heard concluded at US$1030/MT while several buyers from China preferred to wait and watch.
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