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Market Movers Asia, March 15-19: All eyes on oil, LNG, PVC price movements

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Watch: Market Movers Asia, March 15-19: All eyes on oil, LNG, PVC price movements

The highlights on S&P Global Platts Market Movers - Asia with Petrochemicals Associate Editor Shilpa Samant:

*Markets assess China's oil data for cues on its stock levels and export prospects

*Tensions, rising oil prices add to Asian oil importers' woes

*LNG demand robust despite recent rally

*Steel demand from auto sector falls

*Global supply shortage raises PVC prices in Asia to multi-year highs

View Full Transcript

This week: China Jan-Feb oil output data, robust LNG Demand, and Asian PVC prices on the rise

But first, Beijing is expected to release oil product output data for January-February this week, which is the first set of official production data for 2021. Market participants will assess the data for cues on the country's oil product stock levels and export prospects in the coming months.

Also in oil, the recent rebound in prices to pre-pandemic levels of over $70 a barrel is already adding to the pain of the region's oil importers. It threatens to squeeze the ability of the countries to find funds for rebuilding economy.

Trends will be closely watched as geopolitical tensions have started mounting at a time when oil prices are already under upward pressure following OPEC+ decision to roll over supply cuts, despite recovering demand. As Saudi Arabia keeps a lid on supplies, the Asian market is already feeling the pinch. Saudi Aramco beat market expectations by raising the April official selling price differential for its Arab Super Light crude to $2.35/b, the highest since August 2020. With OPEC revising its 2021 oil demand up by 220,000 b/d to 96.27 million b/d, Asian buyers will be wondering if there is more price pain in store in the coming weeks.

While oil prices going up, spot LNG prices remain attractive compared to oil-linked term contract prices. The April and May LNG markets have strengthened significantly with end-users in China and South Korea demonstrating strong buying interest to restock inventories, which pushed prices past the $6/MMBtu last week.

This month has so far seen the strongest procurement by Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, and India since the winter season ended, with over 20 spot and strip tenders issued so far.

While some buyers believe that the market has bottomed out and prices could rise for May delivery, other market participants are of the view that the recent rally might not be sustainable as ample May supply is expected in the Asia-Pacific market.Will the rally in Asian LNG prices persist? Share your thoughts with the hashtag PlattsMM.

In steel, demand from automakers is facing a slowdown. Semiconductor chip shortage threatens to stifle efforts to restore car production to pre-COVID-19 levels. China's House Price Index is due as well, which will provide more clues on steel demand from the property sector.

Finally, in petrochemicals, PVC market participants will closely monitor supply conditions for April, especially from the US, where steam crackers are slowly coming online.

Prices in China, India and Southeast Asia, have all been at multi-year and record highs as the Asian PVC market continues to be driven by global supply shortage and bullish crude oil futures. While PVC offers from China continues to rise, some fresh offers for April this week from Taiwan.

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Thanks for kicking off your Monday with us. Have a great week ahead!