Polymerupdate Asian resin pricing Feb. 9-13; As prices rise, will increased Chinese demand be sustained?

February 19, 2009

Ethylene prices were pressured lower in parts of Asia late last week as demand showed signs of slowing, according to Polymerupdate. Prices were flat in South East Asia at $600 to $610/tonne CFR, while in the North East Asian region they fell to $690 to $700/tonne CFR. FOB Korea ethylene prices were assessed at $650 to $660/tonne. Supplies were seen boosted with March delivery offers surfacing from Iran and Libya, prompting ethylene buyers in the South East Asian region to pull back inquiries. Downstream, China’s polyethylene (PE) markets were beginning to show signs of fatigue. Offers for March ethylene were at $650 to $700/tonne CFR South East Asia, while buyer bids were tentative and surfaced below $600/tonne CFR mark.

Tight avails for high-density polyethylene (HDPE) allowed sellers to lift spot prices. Polymerupdate noted that demand across the region was strong with buying particularly robust in markets like India. Because of this, export availability of HDPE from domestic producers remained strained. HDPE film prices were up mid week at $970/tonne CFR Far East Asia with offers on Friday heard at $990 to $1000/tonne. CFR South Asia HDPE film prices were up to $1020/tonne, before rising to $1050/tonne CFR on Friday.

In plant news, South Korean producer supplies were strained due to reduced runs at several local PE facilities, including SK Energy’s PE plant at Ulsan, which was operating at reduced rates of 80%. The plant has a 190,000 tonnes/yr HDPE unit, as well as a 160,000 tonnes/yr linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) unit.

Traders contacted by Polymerupdate remained cautious regarding price levels going forward, especially in light of the planned launch of PetroRabigh’s 300,000 tonnes/yr HDPE plant in Saudi Arabia.

Asian low-density polyethylene (LDPE) prices also firmed despite falling crude values. CFR Far East and South Asia prices for general-purpose LDPE rose to $990/tonne. CFR South Asia offers for LDPE ranged between $1030 to $1050/tonne, with offers from the Middle East heard at $1100/tonne CFR India. In plant news, Arya Sasol of Iran was heard to be operating its 300,000 tonnes/yr LDPE unit at high rates.

Polymerupdate reports that in propylene, prices that had rallied over the past 20-21 days suddenly prompted buyer hesitation. Last Friday, this translated into a dampened buying prices being pushed lower. FOB South Korea propylene prices slipped to $700/tonne, down $15/tonne from Thursday. CFR China prices fell $5/tonne to $760/tonne. Polymerupdate noted that propylene sellers have some concern that stalling demand in China could exacerbate the price drop. [email protected]

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