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Slack regional demand drags down plastics prices across Asia

Prices for most commodity plastics fell across Asia in the past week as slack regional demand, coupled with a fall in the price of some key feedstocks, gave plastics suppliers little ground to push for price increases. Holidays in China and India contributed to the demand slowdown.

This pricing update is courtesy of plastics pricing information service Polymerupdate, which shared its findings with PlasticsToday. According to Polymerupdate, polypropylene (PP) prices were dragged lower in Asia this past week. Prices fell on the back of weak regional demand trends and a decline in feedstock propylene values.

PP injection and PP raffia grade prices were down at $1415/tonne CFR Far East Asia levels while PP film and BOPP film grades' prices were down at $1425/tonne CFR Far East Asia levels. Block copolymer prices of PP were down at $1425/tonne CFR Far East Asia levels.

In South East Asia, PP injection and PP raffia prices were down at $1430/tonne CFR levels while PP film prices were down at $1440/tonne CFR levels. Block copolymer prices of PP were at $1445/tonne levels.

Offers to India were at $1455/tonne CFR mark for PP injection and PP raffia from Basell while PP film offers were at $1475/tonne CFR levels. Offers for PP raffia from supplier Tasnee were down at $1450/tonne CFR levels.

Subdued domestic buying trends prompted Indian plastics supplier Reliance Industries to reduce its local PP rates by Rs 1.50/kg basic with effect from October 13, 2011. The market pulse was expected to continue to remain lackluster until after the Diwali (Indian festival of Light) holidays that are due to begin on October 26th.

HDPE, LDPE, PS and PVC: prices stall or fall for all

It is much the same story for high-density polyethylene (HDPE) prices across Asia this week. Polymerupdate says these too were seen falling. Prices slipped on the back of softer ethylene feedstock rates coupled with extremely dull regional buying trends.

In China, purchasing demand following the recent National Day holidays remained muted. Sellers of HDPE in the domestic market struggled to find buyers and were forced to lower their offer rates in the hope of encouraging buyers to commit to a purchase. HD film grade prices in China were at the Yuan 11100/tonne ex works mark.

HDPE injection molding grade prices were down at $1300/tonne CFR Far East Asia while HDPE blowmolding prices were at $1305/tonne CFR Far East Asia levels. HD film grade prices were at this week at $1320/tonne CFR Far East Asia levels.

Offers to India for HD film grade material were down at $1320/tonne CFR levels from Thailand's PTT, while offers from Tasnee were at $1350/tonne CFR. In South East Asia, HDPE injection, HDPE blowmolding and HD film prices were at $1335/tonne CFR levels this week.

Like HDPE, so also with low-density PE, reports Polymerupdate. LDPE prices were down in Asia this week. Prices fell on the back of softer ethylene feedstock prices and also what Polymerupdate characterized as extremely weak regional buying trends.

General-purpose LDPE prices were at $1450/tonne CFR Far East Asia levels while CFR South East Asia prices were down at $1470/tonne. An LDPE seller contacted by Polymerupdate commented, "We have attempted to minimize the fall in LD this week in the hope that China would begin to purchase post their National Day holidays. However the buying mood in China continues to remain very subdued with actual user stocks reported as ample. This has pushed us to lower our LDPE rates."

In India offers for LDPE film grade plastics were heard at $1480/tonne CFR mark from PTT, while LDPE lamination-grade plastics from Malaysia were being offered at $1680/tonne CFR levels.

Linear LDPE prices fell in Asia this week too. Prices fell on the back of weaker ethylene feedstock rates and dull regional buying trends. As buying in China post the National Day holidays failed to pick up, the pressure on PE sellers in Asia intensified, explained Polymerupdate. CFR Far East Asia prices of LLDPE were down at $1195/tonne levels while CFR South East Asia prices were at $1220/tonne. In India, LLDPE film offers were at $1280/tonne from Qamar with buying interest absent at these levels.

Local prices of LLDPE in China were below the Yuan 10000/tonne ex works levels on account of sluggish domestic buying trends.

PVC prices also fell again in Asia this week. The price fall was triggered by muted demand coupled with a slide in upstream EDC and VCM values. Suspension grade PVC prices were down at $ 920/tonne CFR China and CFR South East Asia levels. In India, a few deals were understood to have been completed at $915/tonne CFR levels for PVC imported from South Korea.

In China, ethylene-based PVC prices were at Yuan 7000/tonne levels with buying interest heard lukewarm at these prices.

Demand for polystyrene (PS) in Asia this week was slow. However, high week-on-week styrene monomer (SM) prices prompted sellers of general-purpose PS to defend their offers' prices despite the subdued buying trends. CFR China prices of GPPS were at $1480/tonne levels while CFR South East Asia prices were at $1500/tonne levels.

A PS seller contacted by Polymerupdate said, "We know that converters in China are sitting on very low PS stock and before long they will have to replenish it. We were pinning our hopes on a demand lift post the National Day holidays, however this failed to happen. We now are looking to November for an improvement in buying sentiments." His hopes may not be filled, according to a buyer of PS who told Polymerupdate that the current bearish macroeconomic health of western markets had cast a shadow of gloom in Asia; as a result the buyer predicted the region was unlikely to see any remarkable demand lift this year.

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