Asia naphtha trades at $701/tonne - highest in more than a year

12 November 2009 14:56  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--Strong buying interest from northeast Asian cracker operators helped push naphtha prices to their highest levels in over a year on Thursday, with second-half December open-spec naphtha trading at $701/tonne (€470/tonne) CFR (cost and freight) Japan.

At the close of open market trading on Thursday, assessments for the second-half December contract had firmed to $701-$702/tonne CFR Japan, up $8-$9/tonne from the previous day and the highest level since early October 2008.

Asian naphtha prices have climbed this week amid sizeable purchases by a number of cracker operators in South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

Traders said the purchases were triggered by improved market conditions for the cracker operators, which had been hit by low margins in early October.

Some cracker operators in Taiwan and Japan have raised runs to near full capacity after lowering them last month, traders said.

The naphtha price rise drove crack spread values between second-half December open-spec naphtha and December ICE Brent futures up to around $116.65/tonne.

The trade differential for physical cargoes of open-spec naphtha also moved back from a discount into a premium to Japan market quotes, buoyed by the substantial purchases this week.

South Korean operators LG Chem and YNCC, which had each bought 100,000-tonne cargoes for second-half December arrival, reportedly paid premiums between $1.00-$3.50/tonne to Japan market quotes CFR Korea, traders said.

Formosa Petrochemical Corp (FPCC) confirmed it had bought 150,000 tonnes of naphtha for second-half December arrival at around parity to Japan market quotes CFR Taiwan.

Other buyers this week included Samsung Total, Maruzen Petrochemicals and Korea Petrochemical Industrial Corp (KPIC).

($1 = €0.67)

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By: James Dennis
+65 6780 4359

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