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Xylenes -mixed xylenes Overview Transcript
The mixed xylenes or MX stream is an important raw chemical that can be broadly divided into two grades, the isomer grade and the solvent grade.
Isomer grade is generally used for the production of paraxylene and orthoxylene, while the solvent grade is used in the solvent and coating application sectors. .
The Asian isomer grade MX market typically sees around 40,000 tonnes of deep sea material being shipped from the US per month as the region is net short. However, with fresh capacity emerging in the key Chinese market, trade flows could fundamentally be altered. .
A large proportion of isomer grade MX trade is contract based, with the spot-trade arena dominated by major Korean players. Pricing for both isomer grade and solvent grades mixed xylenes are heavily influenced by movements in crude futures as well as sentiment in the downstream markets..
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Updated to Q3 2015
China’s xylene market was choppy in the third quarter. Early in July, the prices fell sharply in response to weaker commodity market on the back of the slumped stock market. The prices regained some ground at the beginning of August. Then it fell back again and hit the lowest of the quarter in late August. The prices rebounded to CNY5,550-5,600/tonne, and the uptrend continued for the rest time of the quarter. The trend of solvent grade and iso grade was similar during the quarter, as the price gap between the two grades was only at CNY37.1/tonne due to high cost of solvent grade and tight supply. Accordingly, ICIS China will not narrate them separately in the report.
The domestic xylene market nosedived in July, as weak buying sentiment on the heels of lower crude oil prices hampered trades and pulled down offers. Later, however, the prevailing high purchasing costs faced by cargo-holders kept them from dropping offers further. This, combined with a rebound in toluene prices, capped the downtrend in the xylene market. A dramatic fall of 7.7% in crude oil prices on 6 July hit the xylene market significantly. Although the rebounded toluene prices were supportive, some unfavourable factors, including the slumped stock market, decreased toluene market and sharply lowered chemicals prices, weighed down on the xylene market again. Later crude oil prices rebounded following the easing of the Greece debt issue and China’s stock market also recovered, so the xylene market rose sharply.
Crude oil prices fell sharply with the Iran nuclear agreement, reached on 14 July, but rebounded intra-day, as cargo-holders were optimistic about the market outlook. Late in July, there were many unfavourable factors emerging in the market, but limited spot availability offset the negative factor and thus the market was in a consolidation. Crude oil prices fell below $50/bbl on 21 July. NYMEX September futures prices were settled at $48.45/bbl on 23 July, the lowest since the end of March. The losses on the crude market dampened market sentiment and pulled down discussion prices again.
Following slight increases in the first ten days of August, xylene prices in the domestic market suffered from accelerated declines during mid-to-late August and then bounced back from the bottom at the end of the month. The drastic fluctuations were largely caused by external factors amid stable supply and demand. West Pacific Petrochemical Dalian officially launched its cargoes in the market early in the month, which increased supply and, in turn, exerted some adverse impact. However, the prices were stable to firm, because the overall availability was limited and toluene prices climbed. On 12 August, the xylene prices rose to the highest level in August, at CNY5,850/tonne, widening its gap with toluene to CNY750/tonne. However, the prices started to fall later due to a lack of favourable factors. Stock prices plunged worldwide, significantly weighing on the commodity market. Crude oil prices experienced large declines, with the largest daily fall registered at 5.5%. These factors significantly eroded xylene players’ sentiment. In response, some cargo-holders who suspended offering in previous time sold actively, which exacerbated the short-term supply and demand imbalance. As a result, the xylene prices plunged and the largest daily decline reached CNY250/tonne. During mid-to-late August, negotiation prices were at CNY5,500-5,550/tonne, flat with the levels seen in early August. However, the external environment improved around 24 August. Crude oil prices rebounded and enjoyed a rare rise of 9.8%. Some traders purchased actively in a bid to fulfil their previous orders, and this pushed up the prices. At the end of the month, the prices gradually stabilised.
Xylene prices were largely stable in early September and edged upward on the back of improved demand and higher toluene prices. Prices fluctuated slightly for the remainder of the month. The upward trend slowed down in September after sharp increases in late August. Market participants retreated to side-lines before the Victory Day holiday (3-5 September). As a result, negotiations weakened slightly amid subdued buying sentiment. The market improved slowly after the holiday. Blending oil producers resumed large-volume purchases, while the sharp increases in toluene prices also supported the xylene market. Therefore, prices and trading volumes increased for a short time. Prices of far-month cargoes were much lower, and market sentiment was not as optimistic as that in the toluene market. A large number of sellers offloaded their cargoes to lock in profits after price increases, while buying sentiment was subdued. As a result, the upward trend slowed down and prices fluctuated. The increases in toluene prices came to an end in the second half of the month, which gave less support to the xylene market. The stock market plunged and crude oil prices fell on 15 September. Xylene prices weakened in response to a lack of favourable factors. On the night of 16 September, WTI prices closed at $47.15/bbl, up by $2.56/bbl. Prices rebounded again next day because sellers were active in pushing up prices. Trading sentiment weakened again late in the month. Prices were dragged down by the decreases in the commodity markets caused by the plunge in the US and European stock markets, as well as lower gasoline wholesale prices and MTBE prices. Fewer deals were done compared with the toluene market because of weaker demand and wide buy-sell gap. Prices remained high for a long time supported by tight supply and sellers’ active sentiment.
Dalian Fujia, an unconventional supplier, entered the market in September, which means more suppliers. Most domestic cargoes came from Dalian (including Dalian Petrochemical, Dalian West Pacific and Dalian Fujia) and occupied a large proportion of export cargoes’ market share.
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