Asia naphtha reaches 13-month high of $721.00/tonne

18 November 2009 14:17  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--Asian naphtha prices soared to a 13-month high on Wednesday, with second-half January open-spec contract deals done at $721.00/tonne (€483/tonne) amid firmer crude values, strong demand from the petrochemical sector and tighter supplies, market sources said.

Deals were also done at $718.50/tonne CFR (cost and freight) Japan later in open market trading, sources said.

At the close of open market trading, first-half January open-spec naphtha was assessed at $722.00-723.00/tonne CFR Japan, up around $20.00/tonne from the previous day.

The second-half January open-spec contract was valued at $718.00-719.00/tonne CFR Japan, up $19/tonne CFR Japan.

The naphtha price rise drove crack spread values between first-half January open-spec naphtha and January ICE Brent futures up to over $126.00/tonne.

The rise in naphtha prices has been supported by significant purchases from northeast Asian cracker operators amid improved market conditions for downstream petrochemicals, sources said.

Cracker operators have also increased feeds of naphtha through their facilities and cut back on LPG usage, traders said.

Supplies of naphtha from the Middle East and India have been reduced amid increased domestic demand following the start-up of downstream plants and increased costs of alternative fuels such as natural gas, sources said.

The increase in naphtha prices could open up arbitrage opportunities for more European cargoes into Asia, as there have been reports of recent shipping enquiries from western traders.

($1 = €0.67)

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By: James Dennis
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