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Updated to Q4 2016
CFR (cost & freight) northeast (NE) Asia spot ethylene prices dipped 7.25% to $960/tonne in mid-November from early October, near their lowest levels since February 2016, pressured by ample supply of non-regional cargoes despite buoyant demand.
Improved derivative margins in the styrene monomer (SM) sector and an expected increase in derivative plant utilisation rates however, contributed to the recovery in spot prices by 16.70% from mid-November to around $1,120/tonne CFR NE Asia by early December, as some buyers were inclined to stock up cargoes ahead of the conclusion of discussions for 2017 term supplies.
Some discussions for 2017 term contract were heard in progress with offers on a ICIS CFR NE Asia-linked basis plus premiums ranging from $40-55/tonne. One key buyer in China was further said to be shoring up its inventories in the event that operations from a new methanol-to-olefins (MTO) plant were unstable. China's Fund Energy was widely heard to be eyeing to start up its MTO plant in Changzhou on 21 December 2016, several sources familiar with the situation said. This could not be officially confirmed, but a company source has not ruled out that possibility.
Updated to Q4 2016
European ethylene dichloride (EDC) spot prices were mostly flat in the fourth quarter but saw a spike in mid-October due to new business taking into account slightly higher feedstock price levels.
The EDC market has been very illiquid in 2016 with little spot business recorded, although some producers have been buying on a contractual basis in order to deal with production deficiencies.
This was attributed to the relatively small number of production issues in the market combined with average-to-weak downstream polyvinyl chloride (PVC) demand in Europe.
Going forward, a shift in the market is expected from mid-late 2017 onwards with several plants being phased out due to their chlorine component being based on mercury cell room technology, which is being discontinued in Europe from December 2017.
Several PVC producers will continue production with imported EDC, which is likely to increase demand.
Updated to Q4 2016
The US ethylene dichloride (EDC) market remained relatively soft during the fourth quarter as rising ethylene feedstock costs in the US met lower feedstock costs in Asia, the prime spot market for US export sales.
US spot sales and exports in October rebounded slightly after slumping in September.
But a major producer said that it would reduce output during the fourth quarter rather than try to compete with the disadvantage of high feedstock costs.
But rising prices for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in Asia appeared likely to help pull EDC prices higher late in the quarter.
Despite the headwinds to Asia during the second half of 2016, US EDC exports are up 9% cumulatively for the first 10 months of 2016, mostly on greater sales to China, Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand.
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