FocusAsian ABS price downtrend continues on weak demand

22 May 2012 05:59  [Source: ICIS news]

By Clive Ong

Asian ABS price downtrend continues on weak demandSINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asian acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) prices remain on a downtrend amid persistently weak demand in the region that is likely to extend till June, said traders and producers on Tuesday.

Traders, in particular, cut prices to move parcels in anticipation of further weakness in feedstock prices.

Feedstock styrene monomer (SM) prices were around $1,360/tonne CFR China (€1,061/tonne) this week, down from $1,500/tonne China and above in April.

Butadiene (BD) prices hovered in the low $2,000s/tonne CFR NE Asia this week, down from nearly $4,000/tonne CFR NE Asia in February.

“Sellers believe that crude oil prices have further downside potential and are liquidating resins in anticipation of that,"said a trader in Hong Kong.

Offers of major Taiwanese and Korean brands were quoted mostly below $1,900/tonne CFR China and Hong Kong this week, from $1,880-1,950/tonne CFR China and Hong Kong last week.

Spot trades were heard concluded in the low-to-mid $1,800s/tonne CFR Hong Kong, while sales in south China were as low as $1,800/tonne DEL.

Among the traders, some have refrained from offering, given the sharp price fall in recent weeks.

Spot prices were above $2,200/tonne CFR NE Asia in mid March but tumbled below $1,900/tonne CFR NE Asia in mid May, according to ICIS data. The current draw down brings ABS prices to the lowest point yet this year.

“Most suppliers are quoting below $1,900/tonne this week but demand remains weak despite the lower offers,” said a producer in Taiwan.

Market players generally expect demand to stay weak into June, given the poor economic conditions in the US and the eurozone, as well as the slowing economy in China.

With prices across the petrochemical market recently on the downswing, sentiment remains poor among market participants.

“The weak US and eurozone economies will continue to dampen demand for Asian-made products and hence consumption of resins will also be weak,” said a Korean trader.

“There is talk recently that some end-users for chemicals and resins in China have defaulted on their cargoes as inventories have increased,” said a trader in Singapore.  

Nonetheless, there is some cautious optimism that the manufacturing season for export in the third quarter could cause demand for ABS to recover somewhat in the middle of the year, but some sellers are bracing for a weaker-than-expected bounce.

ABS is a resin used in the manufacturing of office equipment, toys, consumer electronics as well as in the automotive and construction industry.

($1 = €0.78)

By: Clive Ong
+65 6780 4359

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