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Asia petrochemicals: Key market indicators for Oct 11-15

The outlook for most Asian petrochemical markets was stable-to-bullish for the week of Oct. 11-15 due to rising energy prices and a return in demand from China after the long holiday.

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Higher gas prices continued to add cost pressures to producers using propane or butane for petrochemical productions.

Meanwhile, firmer container freight rates continued to pose a challenge for shipping products, with some China-based companies likely to be affected by 'dual-control' regulations introduced by local authorities, according to market experts.

Propylene

** The Asia propylene import market is slated to trend higher in the current week as stronger feedstocks and replenishing needs lend support.

** More downstream PP producers are expected to increase their run rates after the National Day holiday.

** Firmer crude oil and other feedstock were likely to push up both the domestic and imports markets.

** The East China propylene price moved up Yuan 550/mt at Yuan 8,450/mt ex tank price Oct. 10 while Shandong propylene price jumped Yuan 1,300/mt at Yuan 9,400/mt ex tank price. The jump in domestic price is likely to support imports.

MTBE

** Asian MTBE market is expected to extend gains on the back of higher gasoline and crude oil prices.

** The higher gas prices continued to add feedstock cost pressures to Chinese MTBE producers. Many Chinese MTBE producers are using propane or butane to make isobutylene, which is a precursor to the MTBE production process.

Benzene

** Outlook for the Asian benzene market appeared firm, underpinned by expectations of lower benzene production in China.

** FOB Korea benzene physical rebounded to $961.33/mt on Oct. 8, after touching a low point at $921.33/mt on Oct. 4 within the same week.

** While lofty domestic prices and stable demand from China appeared lucrative, chartering hurdles continued to be a worry among participants as freight costs stayed high.

Toluene

** With the return of the China market from holidays and upstream prices remaining firm, toluene prices are likely to be supported in the near term.

** The benzene-toluene spread has been weakening in September, down $195.67/mt from a year-to-date peak of $340/mt on April 20, and last assessed at $144.33/mt on Oct. 8.

Isomer-MX

** The isomer-MX market is likely to see prices rising in the current week if upstream prices remain firm, and also pulling up the rest of the polyester chain prices.

** The earthquake in Japan appears to have little to no impact on MX at this point.

** Gasoline demand is expected to be weak over winter months, with seasonal gasoline spec changes in countries in the Northern Hemisphere likely to result in additional volumes of MX flowing to the spot market.

PTA

** Chinese PTA sentiment is expected to remain bullish in the week starting on Oct. 11 amid strong upstream oil prices and tighter supply from various maintenance work.

** In India, PTA spot trade discussions for import are on as domestic supplies get tighter with some shutdowns. Most discussions recently involve shipment on breakbulk.

Polypropylene

** Chinese polypropylene market fundamentals are likely to stay strong, as coal-based PP plants are generally running at low rate amid energy control, even though many downstream converter operations are also getting affected.

** In South Asia, demand for polypropylene is robust and the market is expected to be bullish in the week. Market participants in India and Pakistan are keeping a close watch on the movement in China and Southeast Asia.

Recycled PET

** Southeast Asian recycled polyethylene terephthalate market is likely to see little change in market fundamentals with relatively stable spot trades discussions.

** Post-consumer bales supply is expected to remain on the tighter side with expensive feedstock cost to support the overall R-PET flakes and pellets market.

Oxo alcohol

** The CFR China 2-ethyl hexanol price is likely to receive support this week as more downstream plasticizers producers are expected to ramp up their run rate after the National Day holiday.

** Many downstream plasticizers plants in Shandong, such as the DOP and DOTP plants, were earlier forced to ease or cut down their operating rates as China seeks to reduce emission output. The move impacted demand and eventually dragged the price of 2-EH lower for both domestic and imports. But industry sources expect run rates to pick up after the National Day holiday.