Asia ABS slumps on poor demand, falling feedstock prices

Source: ICIS News

2018/11/01

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia’s acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) market slumped again this week as poor demand persisted in the key Chinese market.

At an appliances shop in Qingdao, China. ABS resins are used in appliances. (Photo by Wu Hong/EPA/REX/Shutterstock)

Lower prices failed to revive buying interest, with buyers expecting even lower prices in the near term.

Spot prices slipped below $1,700/tonne CFR (cost & freight) NE (northeast) Asia, while some deals were done at under $1,600/tonne CFR NE Asia, according to data collected by ICIS.

In early October, ABS prices were at around $1,785/tonne CFR NE Asia.

With the end of the third-quarter manufacturing-for-exports season in China in October, demand for resins, including ABS has tapered off.

The ongoing US-China trade war has also dampened sentiment among players in the market.

“Demand is just weak with buyers mostly on the sidelines,” a China-based trader said.

ABS resins are used for appliances, toys, consumer electronics, and have applications in the automotive and construction sectors.

Turnarounds and output reductions at some plants in Asia in the fourth quarter failed to boost sentiment.

Sellers remained under pressure to move cargoes, while buyers were hesitant to commit, especially to larger parcels.

Poor economic outlook as fallout from the US-China trade war prompted end-users to be cautious, resulting in soft demand and slower trade.

”Outlook is just unclear so there is a lot of uncertainties among buyers,” said a producer in Taiwan.

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Meanwhile, poor performance in the feedstock segment also exerted downward pressure on ABS, particularly from the styrene monomer (SM) and butadiene (BD) markets.

“The recent fall in key feedstock SM numbers had a bigger impact on sentiment of ABS buyers,” a southeast Asia-based producer said.

On 31 October, SM prices fell $25/tonne from the previous day to $1,165/tonne CFR China, according to ICIS data.

Focus article by Clive Ong