Toluene meanwhile, is expected to continue finding support from low inventories in China. In East China, stocks of 22,000 mt as of last week were seen as relatively low compared with a year-to-date average of 43,500 mt. Along with a relatively wide spread of $28/mt between the CFR China and FOB Korea markers, this would draw buying interest from China. But demand could be capped by narrowing toluene disproportionation margins, which could result in lower operating rates or even shutdowns of some TDP units.
Asia’s ethylene market has firmed on the back of tight supplies. Arbitrage opportunities from Europe to Asia were seen thinning out, while regional ethylene supplies were also limited by steam cracker turnaround season.
But for propylene, weakening demand in China, along with an expected increase in supply from South Korea, would likely continue pressuring the market. South Korea’s S-Oil plans to start up its new high-severity residue fluid catalytic cracker, or HS-RFCC, at Onsan around the middle of June. The unit is able to produce 200,000 mt/year of ethylene and 660,000 mt/year of propylene. Market sources said S-Oil would likely sell the additional ethylene from the unit on a term basis.
While Asia’s butadiene market was pressured last week by lower demand for ABS production and reduced short-covering interest from Japan, a possible delay in delivery of deepsea cargoes from Europe to Asia might lead to a rebound in the market, trade sources said.
Asian polyethylene prices were mostly lower last week amid the seasonal demand lull, with the depreciation in the yuan currency expected to further curb China’s import appetite for high density polyethylene. But India’s peak demand for HDPE film for making irrigation pipes and tight supply from the Middle East have lent support to the South Asian market. Meanwhile, the rise in linear low density polyethylene imports by China since the start of 2018 would likely be tempered by higher recycling rates of Chinese domestic waste attributed to the government’s focus on environmentally sustainable measures.
Asian polypropylene prices were higher last week with Chinese PP futures prices up by Yuan 78/mt week on week to settle at Yuan 9,254/mt ex-warehouse. In addition, There might be export opportunities if buyers are willing to pay $1,300/mt FOB China, Chinese traders said.
–Fumiko Dobashi, firstname.lastname@example.org
–Shermaine Ang, email@example.com
–Edited by Irene Tang, firstname.lastname@example.org
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