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Asian polyester chain product prices tumble to record lows amid COVID-19

  • Author
  • Gustav Inge Holmvik    Hui Heng    Chris Liu    Regina Sher    Miranda Zhang    Gustav Inge Holmvik
  • Editor
  • Barbara Lorenzo Caluag
  • Commodity
  • Oil Petrochemicals

Singapore — Asian polyester chain products such as paraxylene, monoethylene glycol, purified terephthalic acid and isomer-grade mixed xylene have tumbled to record low levels as demand has been hit by coronavirus pandemic, S&P Global Platts data showed.

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The first product to hit a new low was the one furthest downstream in the chain, polyethylene terephthalate, or PET.

Asian PET bottle grade tumbled to $740/mt FOB NE Asia and $760/mt FOB SE Asia on March 18, amid lower upstream prices. This was the lowest price since Platts started the assessment from February 13, 2006.

China domestic yarn and fiber grade prices fell to Yuan 6,040/mt POY 105D/48F, Yuan 7,820/mt DTY 150D/48F, Yuan 6,440/mt FDY 150D/96F and Yuan 6,020/mt PSF 1.4D*38mm, due to upstream price crash and weak final product demand from the West. This was also the lowest since Platts started to assess the grades since April 3, 2019.

"Consumption [this year] will be less than in the past few years, as people are not moving -- actually they cannot move," a Northeast Asian trader said Tuesday.

Asian paraxylene CFR Taiwan/China tumbled to hit a record low of $496.33/mt, the lowest level since Platts assessed the marker on April 4, 2005. Isomer-grade mixed xylenes plunged to a record low of $388.50/mt FOB Korea and $412.50/mt CFR Taiwan on Monday, amid continuously falling global markets, Platts data showed. Platts began assessing isomer-MX in Asia in May 2006.

PX markers fell $35.84/mt from Friday, while both isomer-MX markers fell $28/mt.

The isomer-MX fall came amid sharp price drops in both upstream and downstream markets over the weekend, most notably PX.

"I think the [price fall in polyester chain] is due to worry about world economy depression, and the main reasons are severe crude war and COVID-19," a Northeast Asian PX producer said Tuesday.

The Asian PX-polyester chain is also suffering from overcapacity compared to other petrochemical products, which further adds weight to the chain, the producer added.

Further, Asian monoethylene glycol prices fell $13/mt from Friday to $410/mt CFR China Monday, the lowest since Platts launched the assessment in 2008.

The most actively traded May 2020 MEG futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange retreated Yuan 162/mt from Friday to settle at Yuan 3,481/mt ex-tank Monday. In China, polyester producers had recovered their production rate,

but coronavirus outbreak in Europe and the US affected their exports due to which feedstock MEG demand was still weak. MEG and PTA are used together to make PET.

Asian PTA prices tumbled $15/mt from Friday to $445/mt CFR China Monday, the lowest since Platts started assessing the product on April 7, 2008.