FocusAsia SBR price upside limited on weak demand despite BD spike

18 July 2012 06:42  [Source: ICIS news]

By Helen Yan

SBRSINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia’s styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) price upside potential may be limited because fundamental demand remains weak despite the feedstock butadiene (BD) price spike, industry sources said on Wednesday.

Major SBR producers have proposed a $100-200/tonne price (€81-162/tonne) hike to $2,900-3,000/tonne CFR (cost and freight) Asia for August offers of non-oil grade 1502 SBR, justifying the jump on escalating feedstock BD costs.

Feedstock BD prices surged to $2,400-2,500/tonne CFR northeast (NE) Asia in the week ended 13 July, up by more than 30% or $600/tonne since mid-June, according to ICIS.

Feedstock BD prices were at $1,800-1900/tonne CFR NE Asia in the week ended 15 June, ICIS data showed.

BD is a major feedstock in the production of SBR, making up about 70% of its composition and production costs.

However, the downstream tyre makers – the major consumers of SBR - are unwilling to accept a significant SBR price increase because of the weak global market.

“Demand is not there and the BD price upswing is not sustainable. It is a buyers’ market and we expect non-oil grade 1502 SBR prices to remain at $2,700/tonne CFR Asia in August,” a major downstream tyre maker said.

July contracts for non-oil grade 1502 were settled at $2,700-2,800/tonne CFR Asia, depending on the origin of the product, cargo size, time of settlement and terms and conditions.

Earlier this week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its forecast for global economic growth. The IMF said emerging market nations, long a global bright spot, were now being dragged down by Europe.

The IMF cut its 2012 growth forecast for China to 8.0 percent from 8.2 percent, and said it now expected growth of 8.5 percent next year, down from 8.8 percent.

It revised its growth projections for India to 6.1 percent this year from 6.9 percent, and chopped its 2013 forecast to 6.5 percent from 7.3 percent.

French car maker, PSA Peugeot Citroen has announced plans to close its assembly plant in France and cut 8,000 jobs.

In India, car makers including Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors and Toyota Motor’s Indian unit have reduced production as the economic slowdown bites into their sales.

The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) said car sales for the current fiscal year are expected to rise 9-11%, lower than the 10-12% growth it had forecast in April.

Major downstream tyre producers in Asia have reduced their production output to around 80% of their capacities as consumers hold back their automotive purchases amid concerns of a global recession.

“Demand may not be strong enough to support a significant price increase but we expect a modest $50-100/tonne price increase in August as our margins have been eroded by the surge in the feedstock BD costs,” a SBR producer said.

($1 = €0.81)

Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections

Request a free ICIS sample report for the latest prices and developments in the Asian petrochemical markets

By: Helen Yan
+65 6780 4359

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