Unclear direction of naphtha markets in Asia

The direction of naphtha markets in Asia is currently confusing - some traders are bidding up prices because of a lack of arbitrage material, while C2, C3 and aromatics prices are coming down, as per ICIS. Since naphtha follows the trend in petrochemicals, it is expected to weaken or be range-bound with the current weakness in derivative markets. Players feel that the current strength cannot be sustained amid bearish factor of petrochemical turnarounds in the next few months. The 800,000 tpa Huizhou cracker will be shut in early March for two months of maintenance and expansion to 1 mln tpa. BASF-YPC Co will shut its 600,000 tpa steam cracker in Nanjing in April and May for maintenance and capacity expansion to 740,000 tpa. A total of 223,000 tons of cracker capacities in North East Asia are expected to be taken offline during March and April. Asia’s naphtha market is expected to remain slow in the weeks ahead, but a dearth of deep-sea supply from Europe will cap losses. Hence some traders are keen on a higher premium for H2-March naphtha cargoes due to a closed arbitrage window between Europe and Asia.
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