US chem shares mixed as oil rises, stock markets fall

Author: Al Greenwood


HOUSTON (ICIS)--US-listed chemical shares were mixed as oil prices rose while general stock markets fell.

The table below shows the stock indices followed by ICIS.

21-May Change %
Dow Jones Industrial Average 24,474.12 -101.78 -0.41
S&P 500 2,948.51 -23.10 -0.78
Dow Jones US Chemicals Index 553.09 -4.58 -0.82
S&P 500 Chemicals Industry Index 558.09 -4.54 -0.81

The general markets fell after signs of rising tensions between China and the US.

Among them was the passage in the US Senate of the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act (Senate Bill 945).

The bill would require public companies to disclose whether they are owned or controlled by a foreign government. The bill's sponsor, US Senator John Kennedy (Republican-Louisiana), singled out China in his announcement of the legislation.

In addition, weekly jobless claims reached 2.44m, down by 249,000 from the previous week, according to the US Department of Labor.

The following table shows the performance of US-listed chemical shares.

$ Current
$ Change % Change
AdvanSix 11.44 0.07 0.62
Axalta Coating Systems 21.29 0.13 0.59
Braskem 9.52 0.23 2.48
Celanese 85.73 -0.37 -0.43
Dow 35.75 -0.43 -1.19
DuPont 48.93 0.06 0.12
Eastman 65.41 -0.16 -0.24
HB Fuller 36.14 -0.61 -1.66
Huntsman 17.14 -0.09 -0.52
Ingevity 51.32 -0.94 -1.80
Kraton 13.79 0.04 0.29
Kronos Worldwide 8.88 -0.10 -1.11
LyondellBasell 60.10 -0.29 -0.48
Methanex 17.27 0.26 1.53
NewMarket 426.92 -0.20 -0.05
Olin 11.11 -0.36 -3.10
PolyOne 23.86 0.35 1.49
PPG 94.64 -1.35 -1.41
RPM International 69.57 0.02 0.03
Sherwin-Williams 569.83 6.54 1.16
Stepan 95.63 0.69 0.73
Chemours 12.47 -0.38 -2.92
Trinseo 19.00 -0.28 -1.45
Tronox 6.50 -0.13 -1.96
Univar 13.97 0.01 0.07
Venator Materials 1.44 -0.02 -1.03
Westlake Chemical 43.77 -0.87 -1.95

The mixed performance of chemical stocks followed another rise in oil markets, as shown in the following table.

21-May 20-May %
Brent 36.06 35.75 0.87
WTI 33.92 33.49 1.28

In US chemical markets, May cumene contract prices fell by more than 20%.

Sentiment in US polyethylene markets showed signs of shifting as export offers rose.

US existing home sales fell to their lowest levels in 10 years.

In Europe, chemical shares were mixed.

Polyethylene (PE) prices could be lifted by higher upstream costs and more expensive imports, which could put pressure on the market.

PE demand remains strong in medical and packaging applications, but other downstream markets, including the automotive industry and durable goods, remain weak.

Poor automotive demand has also put prices for styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) under pressure, as May contracts hit record lows, with lower feedstock costs providing some cushion for margins.

Prices for ethanolamines tracked more modest reductions, despite falling ethylene contract prices, as demand has proved more resilient.

In Asia, petrochemical shares rose amid expectations.

Japan's exports fell by 21.9% year on year in April as shipments to the US slumped and China slumped.

Exports to China, Japan’s largest trading partner, fell 4.1% in the year to April amid sharp drop in demand for chemical products, Ministry of Finance (MOF) data showed.

The au Jibun bank flash manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) for Japan fell to 31.7 in May, its lowest since March 2009 following a severe decline in production and demand.

South Korea's exports slumped by 20.3% year on year in the first 20 days of May, as the coronavirus pandemic continued to weigh on demand overseas, customs data showed.

The country's exports fell by 24.3% year on year in April.

Focus article by Al Greenwood

Additional reporting by Adam Burkin, Zachary Moore, Stefan Baumgarten, Morgan Condon and Nurluqman Suratman

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