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Base oils news

Singapore March petrochemical exports fall 3.6%; NODX slumps 20.7%

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Singapore's petrochemical shipments in March fell by 3.6% year on year to Singapore dollar (S$) 1.16 billion ($853 million), extending the 2% contraction in the previous month and weighing on overall non-oil domestic exports (NODX), official data showed on Wednesday. March non-electronic NODX down 23.2% year on year March manufacturing PMIs show continued expansion Singapore economy forecast to grow 1.0-3.0% in 2024 Overall exports of chemicals and chemical products in March fell by 37% year on year to S$3.54 billion, reversing the 5.8% expansion in February, Enterprise Singapore said in a statement. The country's NODX for the month fell by 20.7% – a much steeper decline from February’s 0.2% contraction – to S$14 billion because of a high base a year ago, with shipments to most major trading partners posting declines. March non-electronic NODX, which includes petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals, fell by 23.2% year on year to S$11.2 billion. Overall NODX to seven out of Singapore's top 10 markets fell in March, but shipments to Hong Kong, Taiwan and China rose. Singapore is a major manufacturer and exporter of petrochemicals in southeast Asia. Its petrochemicals hub Jurong Island houses more than 100 global chemical firms, including energy majors ExxonMobil and Shell. In the first quarter, the country’s economy grew by 2.7% year on year in the first quarter, accelerating slightly from the 2.2% expansion in the preceding quarter, according to official advance estimates. On a quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted basis, Singapore’s economy expanded by 0.1%, extending the 1.2% expansion in Q4. The manufacturing sector in Q1 grew by 0.8% year on year, moderating from the 1.4% expansion in the previous quarter. "Within the sector, output expansions in the chemicals, precision engineering and transport engineering clusters more than offset output contractions in the electronics, biomedical manufacturing and general manufacturing clusters," the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said. For the whole of 2024, Singapore's economy is expected to expand by 1.0-3.0%, compared with actual GDP growth of 1.1% growth in 2023, the ministry said. Manufacturing activity in Singapore improved in March, with the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM) purchasing managers' index (PMI) inching up to 50.7, marking the seventh straight month of expansion. In contrast, a separate survey of private manufacturers by financial information and services provider S&P Global showed Singapore’s March PMI eased to 55.7 from 56.8 in February. Focus article by Nurluqman Suratman Thumbnail image: Singapore harbour and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, 16 March 2023. (Franz Neumeier/imageBROKER/Shutterstock) ($1 = S$1.36)

17-Apr-2024

Japan Mar chemical exports rise 3.9% as yen continues to weaken

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Japan's chemical exports rose by 3.9% year on year to yen (Y) 1.03 trillion in March, supported by higher plastic materials shipments abroad, amid the continued weakness of the yen, official data showed on Wednesday. The country's exports of plastic materials rose by 19.3% year on year to Y297 billion in March, Ministry of Finance (MOF) data showed. By volume, exports of plastic materials rose by 7.6% year on year to 513,959 tonnes. Shipments of organic chemicals, meanwhile, slipped by 2.2% year on year to Y199.4 billion in March. Exports of motor vehicles rose by 15.8% year on year to Y1.5 trillion in March, while shipments of motor vehicle parts were up by 3.7% at Y349 billion. Japan's overall exports rose by 7.3% year on year to Y9.47 trillion in March, up for the fourth straight month, while imports were down by 4.9% at Y9.1 trillion. This resulted in a trade surplus of around Y366 billion, the first in three months and reversing the around Y378 billion deficit recorded in February this year. By destination, Japan's overall exports to the US rose by 8.5% year on year while those to China were up by 12.6%. WEAK YEN PROVIDES TAILWIND FOR EXPORTSThe March trade data follows the yen sinking hit 34-year lows to the dollar beyond 154 yen this week as hopes of quick US interest rates receded amid persistent inflation. US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, speaking at the Washington Forum on the Canadian Economy on 16 April, said the US economy has not seen inflation come back to the central bank’s goal, pointing to the further unlikelihood that interest rate cuts are in the offing anytime soon. At 01:33 GMT, the yen was trading at 154.62 to the dollar. The US dollar extended gains on 16 April, with the US Dollar Index (DXY) rising to highs of 106.51 before closing around 106.06. Higher interest rates in the US make dollar-denominated assets more attractive due to higher yields compared to Japanese assets. Japan's finance minister Shunichi Suzuki on 16 April said that he is closely monitoring the yen's depreciation and are ready to implement all necessary measures to address the situation if needed. Japanese authorities intervened in the currency market in 2022 to purchase the yen on three occasions. "Jawboning from officials appeared to be an everyday affair with markets largely ignoring them for now as the move higher appears to be in line with recent market developments – higher US treasury yields while the Bank of Japan is still perceived to normalise slowly," Singapore-based OCBC Global Markets Research said in a note. The Bank of Japan on 19 March ended eight years of negative rates, ending the country’s historic era of negative interest rates, but this has failed to stop the slide in the yen. In a statement announcing the policy change, the central bank said that the economy has “recovered moderately” and that it is “highly likely that wages will continue to increase steadily.” Focus article by Nurluqman Suratman

17-Apr-2024

LOGISTICS: Maersk to resume Panama Canal transits for OC1 service on 10 May

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Global container shipping major Maersk will resume Panama Canal transits for its OC1 service beginning 10 May, ending its “two-loop” setup it established in January because of transit restrictions brought on by a persistent drought. Maersk ceased transiting the canal in January for the service connecting Asia-Pacific and the US East Coast and instead transported containers across Panama using railroads. The company said it is taking the action because of the onset of the rainy season in the region and after the Panama Canal Authority (PCA) added three more daily slots based on the present and projected water levels in Gatun Lake. The PCA said it is optimistic that traffic through the canal could return to normal in 2025 as current forecasts indicate that steady rainfall will arrive later this month and continue during the rainy season. The PCA said all future plans remain contingent on how much rainfall comes and water levels in Gatun Lake. Peter Sand, chief analyst at ocean and freight rate analytics firm Xeneta, said he thinks there is still a long way to go before trade lanes via the Panama Canal become normal. “There may be projections for increased rainfall but at the moment they are just that – projections,” Sand said. “If water levels do not rise then it will be interesting to see how this plays out and whether Maersk can stick to this timeline.” Container ships and costs for shipping containers are relevant to the chemical industry because while most chemicals are liquids and are shipped in tankers, container ships transport polymers, such as polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), which are shipped in pellets. Some liquid chemicals are also shipped on container ships using isotanks. Please see the Logistics: Impact on chemicals and energy topic page

16-Apr-2024

Argentina’s lower rates helping central bank shore up balance sheet at savers’ expense – economist

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Argentina’s latest cut to interest rates had more to do with shoring up the central bank’s balance sheet, possible thanks to currency controls implemented by the prior Administration, than the actual control of price rises, according to the director at Buenos Aires-based Fundacion Capital. Carlos Perez said the so-called Cepo currency controls limiting the ability to buy or sell any foreign currency may be causing losses for savers getting returns on their deposits below the rate of inflation, but they are helping the central bank to kick off a much needed shoring up of its balance sheet. Effectively, savers who have their pesos in the Argentinian banking system are paying with their losses certain stabilization for the central bank's balance sheet. Stability is something the Banco Central de la Republica Argentina (BCRA) could do much with. First introduced by Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s cabinet in 2011, the restrictions became informally known as Cepo cambiario (Spanish for 'exchange clamp'). They were lifted by the center-right cabinet of Mauricio Macri in 2015 but implemented again by his successor Alberto Fernandez in 2020. Argentina’s new President Javier Milei blasted the Cepo controls during the electoral campaign and has promised to lift them in due course but, for now, some old regime tools are coming in handy to shore up the new regime. Last week, the BCRA lowered the main interest rate benchmark from 80% to 70%. One day after that, the country’s statistics body Indec said the annual rate of inflation had jumped to nearly 290% in March, although it noted a fourth consecutive slowdown in monthly price increases. See bottom graphs for monthly and annual inflation rates. Lowering rates amid rocketing inflation: just the opposite of what is meant to be done, as the global inflation crisis has just showed us. MAKING SENSE OF IRRATIONALSo, while trying to get Argentina back into the realm of "normal economic policy", according to Perez, some irrational measures are still being used. But, at least, the central bank is quickly consolidating its position and starting to resemble a normal central bank, the economist went on, and not just the printer of money, or lender of last resort, it had become under the prior Administration, who used it to finance its recurrent spending, fueling inflation along the way. Milei’s two more controversial proposals – dismantle the central bank and dollarize the economy – are now forgotten: Argentina was far from having the necessary dollars to dollarize, and the central bank, like in any economy, has in these four months proved a useful tool to start stabilizing runaway inflation. Perez said the current interest rates – nominally, monthly at 2% – are well detached from the monthly rate of inflation, now at around 10%. Effectively, savers’ deposits are losing 8% of their value. But this sacrifice, added the economist, had to be seen considering the wider stabilization of the system. “In Argentina right now we have economic variables which are running at speed, like inflation; others which are walking, such as the interest rates; and others which are crawling, such as the official interest rate on deposits,” said Perez. “In this situation, Cepo controls take center stage. By law, most deposit holders have almost no way to dollarize their savings, for instance. Their money is imprisoned, so to speak. Thus, the central bank is effectively cleaning up its balance sheet by liquidizing little by little the liabilities it holds.” Financial institutions and banks will place their deposit holders’ savings within the central bank, like in any other economy; the Argentinian specific feature lies in that the bank itself is charging savers by keeping their returns well below inflation. Milei has hinted at lifting the Cepo controls by mid-2024 – but it remains to be seen whether more sacrifices from suffering savers will be required. It is worth noting that a lot of Argentinian money left Argentina years ago. Some estimates say Argentinians hold around $250 billion in assets abroad. “Therefore, the logic behind a real negative interest rates can only be found in the Cepo system. If the economy was free of those restrictions, we would be probably facing a massive capital flight, now contained by the law,” said Perez. “Will the government lift the Cepo system? It will be facing a dilemma. While Cepo is in place, a progressive clean-up of the central bank’s balance sheet can take place. Without restrictions, returns on deposits will have to match or surpass the inflation rate, if a large-scale capital flight is to be avoided.” INFLATION DOWNSo, asking savers to make sacrifices is one leg of the plan to stabilize the central bank’s balance sheet and, with it, the economy. To stabilize runaway inflation, a second leg has been stopping all issuance of bonds by the central bank to finance recurrent public spending, a vice the prior Administration became too addicted to. Printing money became virtually the sole financing method for the Administration as finding investors abroad willing to buy Argentinian debt became a rarity and the IMF’s bailout would only partly cover the spending needed in what was at the time one of the most subsidized economies. A third leg has come from the fiscal adjustment implemented by the government. Milei’s “chainsaw” which propelled him to fame when he was just a libertarian, media-prone economist, has started making its early rounds: subsidies have been severely curtailed and recurrent spending is on the cards with a plan to implement large-scale redundancies among civil servants. ECONOMIC RULEBOOK, AT LAST The recession is hitting hard the real economy, said Perez, but voters who overwhelmingly backed Milei seem, at least for the moment, be putting up with the pain. This time, Argentinian world-famous, violent-at-times, media-grabbing street protests have so far been absent. Global investors and the IMF alike also like the tune of what is being done. But no-one hides that the recession is hitting consumers hard, and poverty levels have jumped over 50%, according to official figures. With the hit to consumers' purchasing power comes the hit to the petrochemicals-intensive manufacturing sectors, which official figures confirm are registering hefty falls in output. Petrochemicals sources in Argentina have said to ICIS this week they are registering falls in demand between 30% and 50%; for now, stocks are still catering for depressed demand. Perez, ordinary voters struggling to make ends, and global investors alike are for now giving a vote of confidence to a cabinet which is playing by the book set out in the electoral campaign. Milei never shied away from the fact it had to be a "brutal" adjustment if past errors were to be mended. Perez said that, at least, the measures being implemented are all within the realm of ordinary economic policy, a terrain Argentina had left years ago, he added. “The first four months have been quite positive. From one day to the other, Argentina went from an irrational economic policy to a reasonable one,” he said. “The fiscal adjustment has been severe, relative prices are starting to adjust positively, the central bank is shoring up its reserves – albeit they are still in the red; the relationship with the IMF is good; and the cabinet is working hard to shore up its economic policy with political support in Parliament, where Milei’s party is in a minority.” Argentina’s fertilizers- and export-intensive agricultural sector should also register a positive harvest in the second quarter, which will continue propping up much-needed dollars reserves within the central bank. “Right now, the positive financial feelings contrast with how hard the recession is hitting the real economy. At Fundacion Capital we expect GDP to contract by around 6% in Q1, year on year. In Q2, output will also fall, but the hit will be lessened by agriculture,” said Perez. “The first half of 2024 will be very hard for ordinary Argentinians. And let’s not forget, the challenges for the government remain daunting: the fiscal adjustment still lacks sustainability, i.e. political support. And despite the improvements, the central bank’s reserves are still negative: a genuine, sustainable flow of dollars into Argentina is yet to take place.” ARGENTINA MONTHLY INFLATION RATE In % change Source: Indec ARGENTINA ANNUAL INFLATION RATEIn % change Source: Indec Front page picture source: Shutterstock Interview article by Jonathan Lopez

16-Apr-2024

France Chimie calls for sector support as crisis continues and structural changes limit investments

LONDON (ICIS)–Chemicals production growth in France could be limited to 1% in 2024 as many companies prepare to implement structural cost saving measures and limit investments for growth, the trade group France Chimie said on Tuesday. The industry in France is weakened by an “unprecedented crisis” as is the sector across Europe, it suggested, with basic chemicals, including petrochemicals and polymers, under intense pressure. The basic chemicals sector in France was dealt a blow last week with the ExxonMobil Chemical France decision to close its steam cracker and polymer units at its Gravenchon site in Port-Jerome-sur-Seine, in Normandy. The closures – following €500m of losses from the site since 2018 – will result in the loss of 677 jobs, ExxonMobil France said on 11 April. Chemicals production in France fell by 1% last year compared with a drop of 8% in Europe, France Chimie said. The number excludes pharmaceuticals and fine chemicals. France is a leader in industrial exports, fourth in terms of patent filings in Europe and has a growing workforce, the trade group added. The headline figure, however, does not reflect the deeper contraction in parts of the sector. Perfumes and cosmetics chemicals have grown 15% since 2021 while specialty chemicals output has contracted 4% compared to a -13% in Germany, France Chimie noted. Basic chemicals in France, on the other hand, are contracting at a similar rate to their counterparts in the rest of Europe. “These activities are suffering from a loss of competitiveness aggravated by the pressure from international competition that is not always subject to the same regulatory requirements, “ it said in a statement translated from French. France Chimie expects growth investments in chemicals in France to fall by 40% this year in favor of what it calls regulatory and maintenance investments growth of around 20%. The sector needs an ambitious EU industrial policy that is in line with the Green Deal objectives to restore industrial sovereignty and preserve high quality employment, it said. In France, France Chimie is pressing for the next regulation of nuclear power to preserve the attractiveness of competitive electricity prices. It wants to see the France 2030 plan allowing competition on equal terms with the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) support in the US. It calls for the use of trade defence mechanisms to restore fair international competition; simplified and stabilized regulations adapted to merging sectors of the economy; and support for research competitiveness, particularly through France’s Research Tax Credit. "The chemical industry is waiting for strong measures from the European and French public authorities to restore its development momentum,” France Chimie president Frederic Gauchet said. “The objective is not only to contribute to the development of European sectors (battery, hydrogen, health, bio-based products, recycling, etc), but also to support our existing sites so that chemistry continues to contribute fully to a sovereign and decarbonized economy and preserves quality employment in France.” Focus article by Nigel Davis. Thumbnail photo: A plant operated by France's TotalEnergies in Antwerp, Belgium (Source: TotalEnergies)

16-Apr-2024

VIDEO: Global oil outlook. Five factors to watch in Week 16

LONDON (ICIS)–Oil prices could come under downward pressure this week after Iran said its retaliation against Israel for the death of top military generals in an embassy bombing in Damascus is over. A weaker demand outlook for crude and worries that US interest rates will be higher-for-longer may add to the weaker picture. ICIS highlights five factors likely to drive benchmark crude prices this week.

15-Apr-2024

Americas top stories: weekly summary

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Here are the top stories from ICIS News from the week ended 12 April. Oil slumps by more than $2/bbl on Israel-Hamas ceasefire hopes Oil prices fell by more than $2/barrel on Monday amid easing tensions in the Middle East after Israel further withdrew troops from southern Gaza and signalled a willingness to resume ceasefire talks with Palestinian militant group Hamas. EPA’s final rule on US chem plant emissions could weigh on EO production – ACC The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule on Tuesday aimed at reducing hazardous air pollutants from chemical plants, which some think could weigh on production of key chemistries and could lead to higher costs being passed through to consumers. INVISTA to explore alternatives for nylon fibers business INVISTA plans to explore strategic alternatives for its nylon fibers business and has engaged Barclays as exclusive financial advisor during the exploration process, the US-based manufacturer of chemical intermediates, polymers and fibers said in a statement late on Tuesday. US East Coast PET bale prices steadily rise amid snug supply, rising beverage demand Despite historic patterns, East Coast polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle bale prices have risen only slightly and very steadily over the last several weeks. Crude demand expectations fall for 2024 as trends shift back to pre-COVID pattern – IEA The International Energy Agency (IEA) on Friday cut crude oil demand forecasts for the year, with rates expected to fall further next year as consumption returns to the pre-COVID-19 trend, increasing the odds of a peak in oil consumption this decade, the agency said. Argentina’s inflation up to 288% in March, but central bank cuts rates on ‘pronounced slowdown’ Argentina’s annual rate of inflation rose to 287.9% in March, up from 276% in February, the country’s statistical agency Indec said on Friday.

15-Apr-2024

Europe market jitters ease despite ongoing Middle East tensions

LONDON (ICIS)–Chemical stocks in Europe have firmed in line with the general market in midday trading on Monday, as oil prices subsided and investor unrest eased despite ongoing tensions in the Middle East. Asia-Pacific equities had tumbled in earlier trading on the back of growing hostilities over the weekend after Iran launched ordinance into Israeli airspace late on 13 April. The Israel Defence Force (IDF) confirmed the attack, with Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari stating in a briefing on Sunday that none of the 170 drones launched from Iran had entered Israeli airspace, and fighter jets mobilized to intercept cruise and ballistic missiles had shot almost all of them down. The handful of ballistic missiles that crossed into Israeli territory were intercepted and fell at the Nevatim airbase in the south of the country, but damage to infrastructure was limited and the base is currently operational, he added. Lingering unease from the attack, and the potential for an Israel-Iran conflict to escalate further bled into early Monday trading, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index and Japan’s Nikkei 225 index closing down 0.72% and 0.74% respectively. Taiwan and India felt the chill more keenly, with the Taiwan SE and Bombay Sensex bourses closing down 1.38% and 1.14% respectively. European bourses were less unsettled on Monday, with Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 trading up 1.01% and 1.09% respectively, while the UK FTSE 100 was little changed at 13:10 BST. European chemicals stocks moved higher on Monday, with the STOXX 600 chemicals index trading up 0.34% from Friday’s close, with Solvay, Evonik and Arkema among the biggest gainers. The decline in oil prices also deepened from earlier in the day, with the value of Brent crude June futures dropping 87 cents to $89.58/barrel in noon trading. The fall in crude values represents a decline in the overall risk premium priced in at present in response to Middle East tensions, but they are a long way from a more comprehensive rollback. Oil prices have increased by over $8/barrel since mid-March. Crude and downstream pricing as of 12:00 BST Monday Product Latest Previous Change Brent June 89.58 90.45 -0.87 WTI May 84.74 85.66 -0.92 Naphtha 677.00 695.00 -18.00 Benzene 1203.00 1205.00 -2.00 Styrene 1800.00 1815.00 -15.00 An attack from Iran had been threatened for weeks following a strike on its embassy in Damascus, Syria. The fact that the response was telegraphed in advance, consisted largely of slow-moving drones and resulted in little damage and no fatalities, has reassured markets that there is scope for a de-escalation. “The fact that there was limited damage and no loss of life may also provide some comfort to the market, as it may mean a more measured response from Israel,” said ING analysts in an oil market note issued on Monday. Iran said it considers the conflict concluded and US diplomats are reportedly urging restraint in Israel, but further salvos, which will represent Iran’s first direct attack on Israel, means that tensions could rapidly intensify. “The US and allies are pushing for a diplomatic response, while the risk is that hardliners within the Israeli government push for a more aggressive response,” ING added. Multiple western governments have officially condemned Iran for the attack which took place on the same day that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps seized a ship passing along the Strait of Hormuz, according to data provider Xeneta. Any moves to sanction Iran or measures that could restrict the country’s flow of oil into global markets could tighten supplies in the short term, ING added. Focus article by Tom Brown Thumbnail photo: The bell ceremony at the Euronext exchange in Brussels, Belgium. Source: Shutterstock

15-Apr-2024

Oil eases despite Iran attacks on Israel; Asian bourses rattled

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Oil prices eased on Monday as Iran’s attacks on Israel over the weekend were largely priced in by the market, according to analysts, but Asian equities tumbled amid concerns over recent escalation of geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. Product ($/barrel)  Latest (02:33 GMT) Previous Change Brent June 90.24 90.45 -0.21 WTI May 85.33 85.66 -0.33 Concerns over a wide regional conflict in the Middle East sent Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index falling by 1%, South Korea's KOSPI slipping by 1.69% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index declining by 0.79%, as of 02:45 GMT. "The [oil] market had already priced in some form of attack, while limited damage and no loss of life means the potential for a more measured response from Israel," Dutch banking and financial services provider ING said in a note on Monday. "While Iran considers the altercation 'concluded', markets will have to wait to see how Israel responds." Israel's five-member war cabinet convened on 14 April to deliberate on potential responses, but no decision was reached due to disagreements over the timing and scale of any action, according to news agency Reuters. Iran launched on 13 April missile and drone attack on Israel involving over 300 projectiles. Of the 170 drones and 30 cruise missiles launched by Iran, none entered Israeli territory, while a small number of 110 ballistic missiles reached Israel, Israel military spokesman – rear admiral Daniel Hagari said in a televised statement. Oil benchmarks had climbed on 12 April to their highest levels since October as players were anticipating Iran’s retaliatory strike on Israel, which the Middle East country blames for fatal strikes at its embassy in Damascus, Syria on 1 April. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement in the incident. Worries over tightening global supply, as well as possible supply disruption amid escalation of regional conflict in the Middle East, have been driving up crude prices since late last year. Iran had stated that its actions were in response to an attack on an Iranian diplomatic facility in Damascus which killed a high-ranking member of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards and eight other officers. For the week ended 12 April, however, crude prices shed around 1% after the International Energy Agency (IEA) revised down its global oil demand growth forecast to 1.2 million barrels/day from 1.3 million barrels/day previously. SUPPLY RISKS REMAIN Meanwhile, the US might intensify its sanctions on Iran, potentially leading to a reduction in oil supply ranging from 500,000 to 1 million barrels per day and keep the oil market in a deficit for the rest of the year, according to ING. Iran pumps a little over 3m barrels/day of oil currently and is the fourth largest producer within OPEC. There is also the risk that Israel’s response includes targeting Iranian energy infrastructure, which could translate to even more significant supply losses. "Finally, if we were to see further escalation, there is the risk that Iran would attempt to disrupt or block oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz, through which roughly 20 million barrels per day of oil moves," ING said. Amid potential significant supply disruptions, the US could tap into its strategic petroleum reserves to mitigate any shortfall, according to ING. Additionally, OPEC holds over 5 million barrels/day of unused production capacity, which could be activated if needed, it said. Should oil prices surge due to supply losses, it is expected that OPEC would utilize some of this spare capacity to stabilize the market, ING said. OPEC and its allies (OPEC+) are due to meet on 1 June in Vienna, Austria to discuss output policy. The group has maintained their output cuts up to end-June. "While risks are clearly elevated, which should keep oil prices relatively well supported, oil supply remains intact for now," ING added. Focus article by Nurluqman Suratman Thumbnail image: Flares from explosions in the sky over Jerusalem as Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts missiles and drones from Iran on 14 April 2024. (Xinhua/Shutterstock)

15-Apr-2024

Asia top stories – weekly summary

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Here are the top stories from ICIS News Asia and the Middle East for the week ended 12 April 2024. China Mar petrochemical markets mixed; Apr demand on seasonal uptick By Yvonne Shi 12-Apr-24 14:19 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Fluctuations in China’s domestic petrochemical markets were limited in March, yielding a mixed performance during the month, while a seasonal improvement in demand is expected in the near term. Tight intra-Asia container shipping space dampens recycling trades By Arianne Perez 12-Apr-24 13:34 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Major Asian recyclers are feeling the pinch of continued uptrend in spot container freight costs for trade within Asia since March. Asia naphtha demand slows down; supply stays ample By Li Peng Seng 11-Apr-24 13:00 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia’s naphtha crack, the spread between Brent crude and the chemical feedstock prices, hit a five-month low recently and it will remain under pressure in the weeks ahead as ample supplies, slower demand and firm crude prices limit any improvement in the spread. Asia ADA sees plant shutdowns amid supply overhang By Josh Quah 11-Apr-24 11:25 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia’s adipic acid (ADA) markets have begun to crack under the cost pressure and weak demand from the main polyurethane (PU) downstream sector. Fitch downgrades China rating outlook to ‘negative’ as debts pile up By Pearl Bantillo 10-Apr-24 15:16 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China’s fiscal challenges amid rising government debt and its prolonged property slump weighing on recovery prospects prompted Fitch to revise down its credit rating outlook for the world’s second-biggest economy to “negative” from “stable”. Korea trade body starts antidumping probe on China SM imports By Luffy Wu 09-Apr-24 14:18 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–The Korea Trade Commission has decided to initiate an anti-dumping investigation on imports of styrene monomer (SM) from China. INSIGHT: Positive China Q1 data overshadowed by property sector gloom By Nurluqman Suratman 09-Apr-24 12:00 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China's economic narrative in early 2024 reflects a 'tale of two cities', with its ailing property sector once again playing the crucial protagonist against recent data which offered flickers of hope for the country's continued recovery this year. Saudi Arabia hikes benchmark May Arab Light OSP for Asian customers By James Dennis 08-Apr-24 18:15 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, increased its Official Selling Prices (OSP) for its benchmark Arab Light crude for customers in Asia for the second month in succession. Oil slumps by more than $2/bbl on Israel-Hamas ceasefire hopes By Nurluqman Suratman 08-Apr-24 12:23 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Oil prices fell by more than $2/barrel on Monday amid easing tensions in the Middle East after Israel further withdrew troops from southern Gaza and signalled a willingness to resume ceasefire talks with Palestinian militant group Hamas.

15-Apr-2024

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