Asia oxo-alcohols market sentiment improves toward Q2

Source: ICIS News

2019/03/04

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Spot oxo alcohols markets in Asia could usher in a period of improved sentiment that will support prices heading into the second quarter.

At the Ningbo-Zhoushan port in east China (Source: Imagine China/REX/Shutterstock)

 - 2-EH to enjoy support from plasticizers

 - China NBA supply slightly snug

 - Feedstock propylene may provide support

In the week ended 1 March, 2-EH spot average price rose $10/tonne to $1,040/tonne CFR (cost and freight) east Asia, marking its second week of increase, according to ICIS data.

ICIS Editorial Chart goes here

The regional market could find further support from downstream plasticizers, which are expected to enter into a traditional spring buying season in the second quarter.

Any price declines for 2-EH in March may be limited even as certain grades, like dioctyl phthalate (DOP), are still experiencing slow import demand from the key China market.

In the n-butanol (NBA) market in northeast Asia, prices could be buoyed by developments in the Chinese domestic market, which was being described as “slightly tight”.

Downstream demand for NBA, similar to that of 2-EH, is expected to be healthy in the second quarter.

A potential stumbling block from the sellers’ point of view could the continued availability of deep-sea cargoes, which have found their way into Asia in recent weeks.

A scheduled turnaround at a southeast Asian-based facility about 20 days from early April, meanwhile, would tighten supply in the region.

In the upstream segment, market players still expect spot propylene prices in Asia to be supported in March due to scheduled plant maintenance, but there are growing uncertainties on the demand front in China, with recent mixed signals from key downstream polypropylene (PP) sector.

Focus article by Joson Ng

Additional reporting by Sikee Shi and Tang Yiting