Asia key petrochemical prices hit multi-year lows on crude falls, poor demand

Author: Pearl Bantillo

2020/03/16

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Spot prices of key petrochemicals in Asia fell to multi-year lows on Monday, tracking losses in upstream crude market on heightened concerns about weakening demand as a result of coronavirus pandemic.

Regional prices of petrochemical feedstock naphtha plunged to a 17-year low, while those of monoethylene glycol (MEG) fell to an 11-year low.

Paraxylene (PX) prices fell to their lowest since 2008, while isomer-grade  mixed xylenes fell to an 11-year low.

Among other aromatics, benzene, toluene and styrene monomer (SM) posted declines from the previous session.

In China, domestic prices of SM slumped to their lowest in a decade.

At the close of trade in Asia, Brent crude was down $2.66 at $31.19/bbl, while US crude fell $1.69 to $30.04/bbl.

Asian equities on Monday were not cheered despite market liquidity injections by major central banks around the world as the moves belies serious threat posed by the pandemic to the global economy.

“The silver lining is that policy makers are generally no longer complacent over COVID19 [novel coronavirus],” DBS Group said in a research note.

“Amid the gloomy outlook and probably increasing negative news flow on the virus, we should keep in mind that many of the necessary steps to support the economy and limit the worst of the virus has been done. Hopefully, this will blunt the worst of the economic/financial impact in the coming months,” it said.

To date, the total global tally of the novel coronavirus infections stood at more than 153,000 with the death toll at above 5,700, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The virus emerged late last year in China’s central city of Wuhan and has since spread to 146 countries/areas/territories.

Outside China, the worst-hit countries are Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain and France.

Focus article by Pearl Bantillo

Additional reporting by Melanie Wee, Judith Wang, Samuel Wong, Keven Zhang, Clive Ong, Trixie Yap and Fanny Zhang

Visit the ICIS Coronavirus topic page for analysis of the impact on chemical markets and links to latest news.

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