FocusAsia styrene consolidating gains, uptrend may resume soon

10 January 2012 04:14  [Source: ICIS news]

By Clive Ong

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asian styrene monomer (SM) prices are hovering in the high $1,300s/tonne (€1,014/tonne) China this week, as the market seems to be consolidating after moving sharply higher late last week, traders said on Tuesday.

While prices have corrected to below $1,400/tonne CFR China last Friday and have been consolidating sideways since then, most players anticipate that the uptrend will resume soon enough as regional supply is expected to tighten during the turnaround season from February to April.

Spot prices breached $1,400/tonne CFR CFR (cost & freight) China on 5 January, rebounding nicely off the recent lows set in late November 2011 at below $1,300/tonne CFR China, according to ICIS data.

Expectations of a tight supply for February and March cargoes due to several plant turnarounds from February to April saw buying interest improving from the start of the year.

Some of the turnarounds include plants from Idemitsu Kosan and Asahi Kasei in Japan, as well as Samsung Total Petrochemical and YNCC in South Korea.

“I have received enquiries for February and March spot cargoes from the end-users in Taiwan and Korea,” said a Korean trader.

At the same time, the dearth of US cargoes bound for Asia continues to underpin the tight availability here.

“Freight from the US is too high at more than $100/tonne, so the tightness in Asia is unlikely to be alleviated in the near term,” said a trader in Singapore.

The snug supply is expected to coincide with the ramp up of production among Chinese downstream factories in April.

Usually, production activities will gradually pick up after the Lunar New Year holidays with a clearer ramp up in April.  

Consequently, demand for resins like acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and polystyrene (PS) could firm and boost consumption of SM.

Meanwhile, bids for February rose to the high $1,300s/tonne CFR China on 10 January against offers at around $1,420/tonne CFR China.

Market players continue to keep a close watch to see if the upswing can again achieve some traction.

“Some buying indications are higher today as players test the market; we will continue to observe a little longer to see if the market does break out from the consolidation over the past two sessions,” said a broker in Singapore.

SM is a wide-ranging liquid chemical used in the manufacturing of plastic resins like ABS, PS and expandable polystyrene (EPS) as well as synthetic rubbers like styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) and styrene butadiene latex (SBL).

($1 = €0.78)

Please visit the complete ICIS plants and projects database
For more information on SM, visit
ICIS chemical intelligence
Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections

By: Clive Ong
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