Vinyl chloride monomer Prices, markets & analysis
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Updated to Q2 2015
For the first half of the second quarter (Q2), vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) continued to firm from last quarter, closely mirroring a slight increase in downstream polyvinyl chloride (PVC) prices. However, both VCM and PVC prices fell for the second half of Q2, as PVC demand weakened due to an oversupply of material in the Indian market, as well as soft demand in both China and southeast Asia, largely stemming from weak economical performances.
Asia’s VCM prices rose from an average of $740/tonne CFR NE Asia and $777.50/tonne CFR SE Asia at the start of Q2 to a 2015-high of $752.50/tonne CFR NE Asia and $787.50/tonne CFR SE Asia on 24 April, before softening to close Q2 at $670/tonne CFR NE Asia and $715/tonne CFR SE Asia.
Few market participants mentioned supply tightness as a key factor. Instead, VCM buyers looked to the PVC market for a price direction for the VCM market. Despite firm spot ethylene prices, most VCM producers were able to match buyers’ softening bids due to lower-priced contractual ethylene, a few traders said.
Updated to Q2 2015
The merchant market for European vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) remained very quiet in Q2 despite some production constraints, with the majority of producers continuing to manufacture only for internal use.
A number of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) producers including KEM ONE, Vestolit and Vinnolit have suffered from production problems in Q2 due to ethylene limitations, which some sources said would lead to stronger VCM sales as a result of manufacturers attempting to fill the gaps in their production. However, only a few merchant deals were heard to be taking place.
Despite the lack of merchant activity, prices were adjusted steadily upwards for most of the month to reflect higher upstream ethylene and downstream PVC levels.
Average prices fell towards the middle of June as a result of lower numbers quoted in the market, but rebounded to close to previous levels at the end of June as a result of higher PVC and ethylene levels.
Prices were assessed at $683-826/tonne free on board (FOB) on 26 June, putting them considerably above early April levels of $593-681/tonne FOB.
Updated to Q4 2014
The US vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) market saw prices weaken during the fourth quarter as global prices moved down in Asia.
US producers had to contend with higher feedstock costs from ethylene on a number of cracker outages that sent prices for derivative PVC up in September, but quickly began to lower.
Ethylene moved down to an average of $910/ton in November from $1,090/ton in September (from 54.5 cents/lb to 45.5 cents/lb).
That helped producers save margin as they began to price more competitively to maintain export share.
US exports of VCM are up 2% so far this year and in November surpassed 1m tonnes for the first 11 months of this year. Most of that business supplies PVC manufacturers in Colombia, Mexico, Canada and Australia and is done through contract.
US PVC spot export prices fell, too, down from $970-990/tonne on an FOB US Gulf basis in mid-August to $800-830/tonne during the first week of December.
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ICIS price assessments are based on information gathered from a wide cross-section of the market, comprising consumers, producers, traders and distributors from more than 250 reporters world-wide. Confirmed deals, verified by both buyer and seller, provide the foundation of our price assessments.
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