FocusAsia capro prices fall on weak global economy; outlook unclear

28 September 2011 09:47  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia’s caprolactam spot prices have fallen for the past two weeks and the near-term outlook remains unclear despite a heavy turnaround schedule in the fourth quarter of this year, traders and producers said on Wednesday.

Spot prices began falling in mid-September because of concerns about the fragile global economy, particularly that of the US and eurozone.

Prices declined by $90-110/tonne (€66-80/tonne) week on week to $3,470-3,530/tonne CFR (cost & freight) China on 21 September and discussions continued to drop to the $3,400s/tonne by 24 September, ICIS data showed.

Discussions at $3,300/tonne CFR China were no longer attractive to buyers by mid-week, as they were adopting a wait-and-see stance.

“Offers have become meaningless,” said a trader.

“All end-users are silent. [There are] no calls, no bids, no emails,” said a producer in Russia.

In addition, spot trade was subdued this week because of the approach of the week-long National Day holiday in China, market players said.

China’s National Day holiday is on 1-7 October.

“It seems that Chinese buyers are completely gone from the market,” said another major trader.

However, prices may be supported by a supply shortage, said a major producer.

Many capro facilities in Asia will be shut for maintenance in the fourth quarter of this year, added the producer.

Chinese major Sinopec Baling is expected to shut its two capro lines, which have a combined capacity of 200,000 tonnes/year, for a month-long turnaround on 12 October, a company source said.

The producer was also experiencing feedstock hydrogen issues and was forced to shut the two lines on 27 September, according to the source.

The two capro lines are expected to be restarted within the next two days, he added.

Japan’s Ube Industries on 25 September shut its one of its two 50,000 tonne/year lines in Ube, Yamaguchi prefecture, sources familiar with the company said.

The line is expected to remain off line for around 40 days, according to one of the sources.

Additional reporting by Angeline Zhang

($1 = €0.73)

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By: Junie Lin

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