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 Q3 2015
European VCM prices were fairly stable in July but were adjusted downward in August and September to reflect trends in feedstocks and downstream products.
Very few merchant deals were heard because the European market is almost entirely captive, with most material used for the manufacture of PVC by producers and either integrated or sold through long-term contracts.
The market was especially quiet in August and September, the former because of the summer holiday period and the latter because of poor global demand in the PVC market.
INOVYN announced in mid-September that it will close its PVC plant at Schkopau due to an inability to agree on a new feedstock deal with DOW. DOW has stated that it has sufficient other buyers to keep its VCM plant at Schkopau running at healthy levels.
Spot prices were assessed at $600-751/tonne FOB in the week ending 25 September.
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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