Sulphur prices in China fall as buyers remain firmly on the sideliness

14 March 2014 11:34 Source:ICIS News

LONDON (ICIS)--Sulphur spot prices in China fell again this week as buyers remained firmly on the sidelines in anticipation of lower prices in April, sources said on Friday.

“China is looking at $200/tonne CFR (cost and freight) China. It's been like this for the last eight days. There are more than 100,000-200,000 tonnes of sulphur coming from the Middle East - unsold for China,” said a trader.

Indeed, sulphur inventories showed a 5% week-on-week build at the nine major China ports and a month-on-month build of 22%.

In relation to the stalemate in China between buyers and sellers, a second international trader said: “The thing is a major market like China will strongly resist these high prices because it’s time for second-quarter contract negotiations.

“They [Chinese buyers] don’t want to do anything – they are making no decisions and the feeling in the market is soft.”

Import cargoes had been offered at $230-240/tonne CFR China, but buyers have been unwilling to pay more than $200/tonne CFR China.

The lack of market confidence in terms of price direction was compounded by Saudi Aramco Trading which announced its April monthly price of 10 April at $180/tonne FOB (free on board) Middle East, down $10/tonne from March.

It is now widely expected among the international sulphur market that UAE’s (United Arab Emirates) ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company) and Qatar's Tasweeq will both reduce their April prices.

Monthly price announcements for the coming month are typically made at the end of the current by both producers.

Belle Zhang contributed to this article

By Julia Meehan