Sellers attempt hikes in China’s domestic markets in line with high crude oil

This week, when Chinese buyers returned to their desks on Tuesday after a long weekend, they faced price hike attempts from the sellers in line with higher crude oil prices that have touched US$86/barrel- a new high for 2010. As per Chemorbis, Tuesday saw a US$50/ton jump in spot ethylene prices in Northeast Asia, according to traders in the region, after a downward trend for the past couple of weeks. Most of March was bearish for PP, PE and PS inside China. In the local market, LDPE prices lost approximately US$120-130/ton in H1-March, HDPE came down by US$65-85/ton and LLDPE declined by $75-95/ton. Lethargic buy interest and high stocks were mainly blamed for the sharp decreases, along with slumping import markets. Domestic homo PP prices in China slid by around US$20-25/ton in H1-March, and local GPPS and HIPS prices were down by $40-45/ton on average. All of these markets stabilized heading into April and even regained some lost ground from the previous weeks particularly in the PP and PS markets. In the PP market, sellers indeed began their upward adjustments starting from early April with hike revisions heard more often this week. Increases of CNY100-300/ton (US$15-44/ton) are sought for now with sellers justifying their attempts by pointing to stronger crude oil prices, improved market sentiment and eased stock pressure. However, buyers are said to be maintaining their “wait and watch” stance and not rushing to conclude deals while traders, and distributors are also remaining cautious about stocking up in view of the volatile market conditions. Though some sellers attempted PE price hikes last week in the midst of surging crude oil prices, local prices mostly followed a stable to soft trend on poor buyers sentiment. This week, the higher LLDPE futures market in China along with the energy markets have encouraged more domestic producers to seek price hikes of CNY100-300/ton (US$15-44/ton). Some sellers comment that demand can be considered good with respect to last week as there are more inquiries. A buyer who received CNY100-200/ton (US$15-29/ton) higher offer levels compared to last week notes that sellers are not willing to give discounts even for firm bids recently. Accordingly, converters are expected to take a wait and see stance in the days to come, similar to the PP market. In the PS market, the sentiment has been strengthening since H2-March in line with better demand expectations and higher costs. Price hikes of CNY100-300/ton ($15-44/ton) are in place with sellers gaining support from high costs, improved demand and low stock levels. Most converters are keeping their operating rates stable after lifting them in the prior week, according to the regional sources.
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