FocusAsia PMMA to extend declines on weak downstream markets

27 July 2012 07:29  [Source: ICIS news]

By Junie Lin

GP PMMA goes into making of household products such as cosmetics bottles, and its automotive applications include car tail lights and speedometer covers.BRISBANE (ICIS)--Spot prices of general purpose (GP) polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) in Asia may soften further in August given a supply glut as consumption stays languid, market players said on Friday.

GP-grade PMMA prices fell by $40/tonne week on week to $2,650-2,700/tonne (€2,173-2,214/tonne) CFR (cost and freight) SE (southeast) Asia and to $2,250-2,400/tonne CFR China on 26 July, according to ICIS.

A northeast Asian seller, saddled with high inventory, is quoting lower numbers. It is currently offering bulk volumes of PMMA in the mid-to-high- $2,100/tonne (cost & freight) CFR China levels, excluding import duties, market sources said.

The price is equivalent to the low-yuan (CNY) 17,000/tonne levels on a delivered (DEL) basis in the Chinese market, they said.

Other Asian producers are now concerned that they might need to lower their August offers far lower than they are willing to compromise with to stay competitive.

At least two major producers outside China said they are closely monitoring the market and will decide on their offers in the coming week.

Buyers are not currently biting the low prices, given continued softness in downstream demand, market sources said.

An unwelcome combination of a weak US economy, the ongoing eurozone debt crisis and a slowdown in the Chinese economy has led to a significant pullback in consumption of Asian PMMA since late last year, industry sources said.

In June, China – a major importer of the product in Asia – recorded an 11% decline in PMMA volume intake at 20,618 tonnes, according to China Customs.

Chinese producers are less keen to lower their prices in the domestic market despite weak demand.

On 27 July, domestic prices of GP PMMA in China were assessed unchanged week on week at CNY16,900-17,900/tonne DEL amid subdued trade, according to ICIS

 “There is no incentive to lower prices, as demand is currently poor,” a seller said, adding that “end-users are unlikely to increase their buying requirements despite the traditional third-quarter peak manufacturing season in China.”

Some Chinese domestic PMMA producers are even mulling raising offers slightly in the coming week, taking into account a firming of values of feedstock methyl methacrylate (MMA).

Spot MMA prices in eastern China have increased by CNY500-800/tonne from the start of the month to CNY14,700-15,100/tonne ex-tank on 27 July, according to Chemease, an ICIS service in China.

In southern China, MMA prices also rose CNY700-1,100/tonne DEL (delivered) to CNY15,400-15,800/tonne DEL over the same period.

The increase in MMA prices in the Chinese market, however, is expected to be short-lived with fresh deep-sea supply flowing into Asia soon, and thus, will provide no firm support to PMMA, market players said.

Around 6,000-9,000 tonnes of MMA loading from Europe’s Rotterdam port and another 2,000 tonnes of Brazilian cargoes are heading into Asia over the next two months, according to market players.

Asian MMA prices for cargoes of more than 500 tonnes are on their fifth consecutive weeks of declines, losing more than 8% or $180-210/tonne to $2,050-2,070/tonne CFR SE Asia in the week ended 20 July, according to ICIS.

Prices for MMA cargoes of 20-300 tonnes fell by 10% or $200-280/tonne to $2,050-2,100/tonne CFR SE Asia during the same period, according to ICIS data.

In southeast Asia, demand for PMMA is expected to be subdued given shorter working hours in countries that observe the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which started on 20 July.

MMA is polymerised to make homopolymers and copolymers with the largest application being the casting, moulding or extrusion of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) or modified polymers.

GP PMMA goes into making of household products such as cosmetics bottles, and its automotive applications include car tail lights and speedometer covers.

($1 = €0.81 / $1 = CNY6.39)

Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections
Request a free ICIS sample report for the latest prices and development in the Asian petrochemical markets

By: Junie Lin

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