Poor downstream market may cap Asia bisphenol-A gains

26 April 2016 | By: Melanie Wee

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia’s bisphenol A (BPA) may see limited upside in prices following recent gains as demand from downstream epoxy resins market continued to be sluggish, industry sources said on Tuesday.

On 22 April, spot BPA prices were assessed at an average of $1,105/tonne CFR (cost and freight) China, up by $10/tonne from the previous week, according to ICIS data.

Market players described BPA demand as moderate at best, but constraints in availability of spot cargoes were buoying up prices.

A number of buyers have taken a wait-and-see approach on the market and have yet to commit to procuring May-delivery cargoes in China.

Most regional BPA producers, meanwhile, are either running their plants at reduced capacity or have decided to schedule maintenance at their units amid squeezed margins.

In South Korea, Kumho P&B Chemicals is running its two BPA lines in Yeosu with a combined capacity of 300,000 tonnes/year at about 70% of capacity. The company is contemplating a brief turnaround to be carried out at one of the units in early May.

On 22 April, domestic BPA prices in east China extended their gains to average yuan (CNY) 8,925/tonne EXWH (ex-warehouse), up by CNY350/tonne from the previous week, according to ICIS data.

The gains in the regional BPA market, however, may not be sustained and prices may be nearing their peak, according to some market sources in Asia.

“In the short-term, it is possible [BPA] prices will hold stable. But [downstream] liquid epoxy resins inventories are high as demand is weak,” a northeast Asia-based market source said.

Other market sources cited waning demand from downstream epoxy resins that could hinder any further increase in BPA prices in the short term.

Meanwhile, growing regional capacity for feedstock phenol could also weigh on BPA markets.

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