China sulphur spot prices continue to fall

28 March 2014 14:19 Source:ICIS News

LONDON (ICIS)--China sulphur spot prices continue to fall amid ongoing downward pressure from buyers, who remain firmly fixed to the sidelines, sources said on Friday.

“No deals have taken place and I don’t think anything will happen in the market for the next week or two,” said an international trader who quoted spot sulphur at $170/tonne CFR (cost and freight) China.

Although volumes have been slow in China in recent weeks, some participants believe that the market will eventually start to pick up, as buyers need to start consuming again.

“The Chinese will definitely need the product and it will be limited how long they can manipulate the market. The season is peaking and now they need to prepare for the export window for India, so they need sulphur in early May,” said a second international trader. 

Sulphur prices in China - which is the largest importer of sulphur in the world - were on an incline September 2013 from September 2013 through to February 2014, due to market tightness stemming largely from the Middle East. 

In September 2013, sulphur was valued at $80-90/tonne CFR. Having peaked mid-February 2014 at $185-215/tonne CFR, prices been on a steady decline as Chinese buyer retreated to the sidelines.

Spot sulphur in China is currently valued at $170-190/tonne CFR China.

According to customs data from Global Trade Information Services (GTIS) Saudi Arabia imported 152,086 tonnes of sulphur in February. In the same month, Qatar imported 96,969 tonnes, while UAE (United Arab Emirates) imported 82,499 tonnes.

Imports from the rest of the world totalled 851,234 in February - 24% lower year on year.

By Julia Meehan