Polymerupdate global resin pricing Jan. 19-23: Asian prices higher ahead of Lunar New Year; in Europe BASF to restart German SM plant, LyondellBasell seeks PE increases

January 26, 2009

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) prices higher in Asia last week, propelled by increases in upstream ethylene and vinyl chlorine monomer (VCM) feedstock and buying activity. Polymerupdate reports that CFR China prices of PVC rose to $660/tonne, with CFR South East Asia prices at $650/tonne CFR. February offers moved higher, ranging from $680 to $700/tonne CFR China and $670 to $680/tonne CFR South East Asia. In India, Polymerupdate says a trader is reported to have purchased PVC at $720/tonne CIF Nhava Sheva. In related plant news, South Korea’s Hanwha plans to down its 225,000 tonnes/yr plant at Yeosu in March for a week-long maintenance turnaround. Its 275,000 tonnes/yr PVC plant located at Ulsan will be shut for a two-week turnaround in May.

Propylene prices declined on reports of a surfeit of deepsea shipments originating from Europe and the U.S. that are due to arrive in Asia through February and March. Polymerupdate reports that the total volume of propylene shipped to Asia was believed to be between 30,000 and 40,000 tonnes. On that news, propylene prices last Wednesday fell to $580 to $590/tonne FOB Korea. CFR China prices dropped to near $630/tonne. Polymerupdate notes that the fall in Chinese prices was also supported by weakening demand ahead of Lunar New Year holiday.

CFR North East Asia ethylene prices reached $680/tonne last Friday, with traders expecting a dip in prices in February due to an increase in supplies from the Middle East, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia. CFR South East Asia ethylene prices were assessed at $610/tonne. Polymerupdate reports that buyers attempted to bid at below $600/tonne CFR, but sellers refused, pegging their offers at $650/tonne CFR and higher.

Downstream, high-density polyethylene (HDPE), linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), and low-density polyethylene (LDPE) prices in North East Asia inched higher. The fact that the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday begins Jan. 26 increased buying activity last week. HDPE film grades rose to $910/tonne CFR Far East Asia. LDPE also increased, hitting $910/tonne CFR Far East Asia. LLDPE film rose to $910/tonne CFR Far East Asia. Despite the increases, Polymerupdate says buying interest remained robust in the North East Asian region. Taking the holiday into account, a PE seller contacted by Polymerupdate warned its clients, “to be prepared for further price hikes this week,” adding that in spite of a slowdown due to the holiday, reduced operations at regional crackers will keep overall supplies tight.

In Europe, benzene prices rose with FOB Rotterdam at $335/tonne. Gains were supported by a rise in downstream styrene monomer (SM) prices, which hit $675/tonne FOB Rotterdam. In plant news, BASF is scheduled to restart its 550,000 tonnes/yr SM plant in Ludwigshafen, Germany, next week.

Elsewhere, Polymerupdate has several reports that LyondellBasell has stopped accepting new January orders for select LDPE grades, with plans to hike prices in February. Other PE producers are also planning increases and will slash PE output across several locations in Europe to support the plan.



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