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Watch: Market Movers Asia, May 14-18: Asia markets assess risks following US' re-imposition of Iran sanctions, Malaysian regime change

Southeast Asia will be on the lookout for any signs of changes in Malaysia's energy, trade, and fiscal policies after opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad won in last week's elections. Sources said his victory could significantly impact state-run energy firm Petronas' upstream and downstream business strategies.


The oil market is also keeping an eye on Asian refiners' reaction to the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement. Observers say while South Korea and Japan may be sensitive to this development, China may stand to benefit from it. Listen to the related podcast here: Implications of US sanctions on Iran for Asian buyers


The Iran sanctions could also affect ethylene producers in Japan and South Korea, who may face higher feedstock naphtha costs.


Still in petrochemicals, S&P Global Platts has launched the e-Window tool for Asian paraxylene CFR Taiwan/China market for a more efficient price assessment process. For questions on this tool, please email: Andrew Song San Wong, Platts Petchems, and Platts Price Group.


Meanwhile, the LNG market is now seeing buying interest from Chinese end-users seeking winter volumes to facilitate coal-to-gas switches.


S&P Global Platts editor for petrochemical markets Yi-Jeng Huang looks at these and other factors that could drive commodity markets this week.


Join our conversations on Twitter - use #PlattsMM and connect with us.


Related event: Platts Seoul Commodity Market Insights Forum

View Full Transcript

Video Transcript


This week, Southeast Asia’s oil and gas sector looks for signs of policy changes in Malaysia after last week’s general election result, and the oil market remains on tenterhooks after the US announcement on re-imposing sanctions on Iran. We’ll also take a look at how this will affect Asian petrochemical prices.


But first, Asian oil market participants are this week watching regional refiners' reaction to the US’ withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement, its first step towards resuming sanctions against Iran.


South Korean and Japanese refiners may be especially sensitive to this development, while China may stand to benefit. The US has never been able to control Beijing’s trade relations with Iran and that is unlikely to change this time. More on this from our latest Global Oil Markets podcast on Platts.com.


Meanwhile, traders in Southeast Asia will be on the lookout for any signs of change in Malaysia's trade and fiscal policies following last week's general election, which saw an opposition victory for the first time in more than 60 years. Sources said this could significantly impact state-run energy firm Petronas' upstream and downstream business strategies.


This brings us to our social media question for the week: Do you expect major changes in Malaysia’s energy policies with Mahathir Mohamad taking office?


In petrochemicals, trade sources say toluene and isomer MX prices have little room to fall this week after hovering around three-year highs last week. Prices will be supported by continued firm demand from China, as well as the news on US sanctions against Iran. The sanctions could also impact ethylene producers in Japan and South Korea, who may face higher feedstock naphtha costs and a narrowing of their ethylene margins.


Still in petrochemicals, we have launched an editorial tool for the Asian paraxylene CFR Taiwan/China market, geared towards more efficient price discovery. Get in touch with us to learn more about this Market on Close tool.


In LNG, seasonal buying interest from Chinese end-users seeking winter - yes, you heard that right - winter volumes to facilitate coal-to-gas switches will likely support Asia LNG prices this week. Chinese end-users have been front-loading their winter requirements this year, after last year’s severe winter gas shortage.


In shipping, dry bulk spot tonnage in the Pacific for both Panamax and Supramax vessels is tight, so freight rates should stay well supported this week. Demand from grains out of East Coast South America in June should add further support.


And lastly, if you are in Seoul on May 16, we'd love to see you at the S&P Global Platts Seoul Commodity Market Insights forum, where we'll be sharing insights on key topics affecting the energy and metals markets. Visit Platts.com for the forum agenda.


Thanks for kicking off your Monday with us and have a great week ahead!