Lunar New Year celebrations across China and the rest of Asia are expected to lead to thin activity in the trading week starting Jan. 31, and for the next couple of weeks.
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Crude oil prices remain strong on tighter supply, which in turn provides a boost to petrochemicals prices. The Indian markets in particular are seeing higher values in both the domestic and CFR import arenas.
** Trading activity in the Asian methanol market is expected to be thin in the week to Feb. 4 with China closed for the Lunar New Year holidays and Southeast Asian buyers, fulfilled by term supply, appearing to have little need for spot cargoes in February.
** Some upside, however, could eventuate in the Indian methanol market this week, due to the country's healthy formaldehyde and pharmaceutical demand.
** CFR India methanol was assessed up $4/mt day on day at $405/mt Jan. 28. Ex-tank prices in west coast India were higher at Rupees 33-33.75/kg Jan. 28 compared with Rupees 32-33/kg Jan. 24.
** The Asian styrene monomer market is likely to be muted in the coming week, since most Northeast Asia markets are closed for Lunar New Year holidays.
** Most trade participants have a wait-and-see approach for the market after holidays amid uncertain upstream prices and downstream demand. Some sources expect the SM production margin turn positive in Q1 due to tightened global supply.
** Bullishness in the Isomer-MX market remains supported by high crude prices, with its short-term outlook looking strong amid Russia-Ukraine tensions and supply shortages.
** However, trade sources expressed apprehension over longer-term prospects as China's paraxylene capacity is set to expand in 2022, potentially eroding margins. This is especially worrying in China, as the threat of COVID-19 restrictions continues to loom over market demand.
** Asian toluene continues to follow the movement of the oil complex and is expected to follow oil markets higher despite the Lunar New Year holiday lull in Asia.
** Indian domestic and CFR India toluene prices are expected to continue to rise in the week to Feb. 4, with higher demand and bids climbing fast.