SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia's acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) prices are facing downward pressure from slowing demand in the key China market and amid falling feedstock costs.
On 9 March, spot ABS prices fell to $2,035/tonne CFR (cost & freight) northeast (NE) Asia, down by $45/tonne from the previous week, ICIS data showed.
Prices have declined by 3% from the 2018 peak of $2,080/tonne CFR NE Asia on 2 March, according to ICIS data.
Ample supply and falling costs of feedstock styrene monomer (SM) have weighed on Chinese buying sentiment and prompted buyers to hold back their purchases, market sources said.
“The feedstock SM price had fallen and impacted on buying sentiment, and prompted producers to lower their offers,” a producer said.
Spot SM prices fell by $65/tonne to $1,365/tonne CFR NE Asia on 9 March, ICIS data showed.
Import arrivals in Hong Kong added to the downward price pressure on the ABS market.
Stock levels of end-users were high, as material booked in January and February arrived in Hong Kong last week, curbing spot appetite for further fresh purchases.
“Just imagine, having breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same time, so it will take a while to digest all the stocks that have arrived,” a trader said.
Chinese demand post-Lunar New Year has been weaker than expected, with market players uncertain about when an uptake would take place.
“The softening of prices shows that there is an uncertainty for when demand will pick up. The uptake of demand has been slower than expected,” another producer said.
Buyers were heard to be more cautious in their purchases, with some choosing to adopt a wait-and-watch stance as they have ample material.
ABS is used in a wide range of applications, including consumer electronics, toys and car components.
Focus article by Danielle Goh
Picture: Assortment of computer screens, keyboards, laptops, tablets and smartphones. (Source: WestEnd61/REX/Shutterstock)