FocusAsian ABS, SAN retreat on weak demand amid low consumption

15 August 2012 06:16  [Source: ICIS news]

By Clive Ong

Asia ABS, SAN retreat on weak downstream demandSINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asian acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and styrene-acrylonitrile (SAN) resins prices retreated as demand in China waned amid low consumption trend in its biggest European and the US markets, traders and producers said on Wednesday.

While the third quarter manufacturing season in China has started, consumption of resins remains lacklustre with no immediate sign of recovery soon.

The slowing economic growth in the US and debt crisis in the eurozone has reduced demand for Asian made goods.

Consequently, consumption of resins has also fallen as factories in China saw fewer orders for finished products.

“Prices remain under downward pressure this week as traders are keen to offload resins, in anticipation of weaker prices in the near term,” said a trader in Hong Kong.

Spot prices of ABS declined to as low as $1,920/tonne (€1,555/tonne) CFR (cost & freight) NE (northeast) Asia for the week ended 10 Aug, down from $20-30/tonne from the previous week.

SAN values slipped as low as $1,720/tonne CFR China this week, around $50/tonne lower than last week, according to ICIS data.

ABS prices previously rebounded off this year’s low of $1,815/tonne CFR NE Asia in late May to reach $2,000/tonne CFR NE Asia in mid July.

SAN prices showed a similar move, rising off its low of $1,690/tonne CFR China in the first half of June to above $1,800/tonne CFR China in the first half of July.  

“The export sector is really weak and our consumption of ABS has declined by around 30% in the first half of the year as manufacturing activities are weak,” said a resin end-user in China.

Traders see limited improvement for resins demand in August and September as Asian economies, including China, are also on a slowdown.

“The domestic Chinese economy and other Asian economies are slowing down and hence demand for resins will continue to weaken,” said another trader in Hong Kong.

The average operating rate for ABS in China hovered around 56% last week, a weak showing given the current manufacturing season.

“Suppliers are faced with waning demand and prices are still under downward pressure despite low operating rates across the region,” said a producer in Taiwan.

ABS is used in the manufacturing of appliances, consumer electronics, office equipments, as well as in the automotive and construction sectors.

SAN is a transparent resin used for consumables such as cigarette lighters, fan blades, trays in refrigerators and other common items.

($1 = €0.81)

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

By: Clive Ong
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