Singapore — The Asian octane market is expected to stay strong this week starting Feb. 22, with the sustained impact from winter storm in the West continuing to lend support to prices in the Asian gasoline and blending complex.
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The storm and the resulting refinery outages in the US, had in fact helped to tip the respective blending spreads to multi-month highs last week Feb. 15-19. Meanwhile, demand for blendstocks has also started to edge up, with the return of post-Lunar New Year holiday buying adding to the bullish sentiment.
**Traders remain bullish on MX ahead of maintenance at some plants and China's peak gasoline blending season, which usually happens in the second and third quarters of the year.
**Isomer-grade mixed xylene prices and margins rose last week as the China market returned from the Lunar New Year holidays and demand for imports firmed amid rising upstream markets.
**The FOB Korea price hit a 13-month high of $697/mt, while the spread to feedstock naphtha widened to $123.75/mt on Feb 19., the highest since it was assessed at $141.13/mt on May 15, 2020, Platts data showed.
**Some component buyers said gasoline demand remained mixed as the high-octane gasoline market only started to show mild recovery.
**Sharp rise Asian toluene prices last week was led by demand from Northeast Asia. Chinese buyers returned to the market seeking cargoes, as traders move to replenish stocks amid concerns of low domestic toluene stockpiles.
**The FOB Korea toluene physical as such climbed to as high as $670/mt on Feb. 18.
**Improved trading for spot Asian MTBE and strength in the downstream metyl methacrylate market is helping to support MTBE prices, which hit a 13-month high of $668/mt FOB Singapore on Feb. 19
**The CFR China MMA marker surged $110/mt day on day and $156/mt week on week at $1,700/mt on Feb. 19, amid active restocking after Chinese traders returned from the Lunar New Year holidays in tandem with the shortage in the US.
**The MTBE production margin out of methanol remained in positive territory, estimated at around $95.3050/mt as of Feb. 19, Platts data showed.
**Buying from the Philippines for March cargoes will be in focus this week after buy indications climbed to around $520/cu m CFR Philippines, while offers were around $550/cu m CFR Philippines, up $10/cu m on the week.
**US ethanol delivered to the Philippines was assessed at $540.67/cu m on Feb. 19 against $509.67/cu m on Feb. 11.
**The Asia naphtha crack against ICE Brent crude futures, which spiked to a two-week high of $103.75/mt on Feb. 19, will continue to trace a strong Northwest Europe naphtha market, which has been supported by bullish gasoline in Europe. The bullishness, in part, is a direct result of the extreme cold weather in the US and shut refinery production, which had limited key arbitrage flows to Asia.
** The Singapore reforming spread -- the difference between FOB Singapore 92 RON gasoline and FOB Singapore naphtha derivative -- was largely unchanged week on week at $6.05/b at the Asian close Feb. 19, easing off from a 9-month high of $7.20/b on Feb. 17, Platts data showed.
**The spread between CFR Taiwan/China paraxylene marker and CFR Japan naphtha physical also widened $8.20/mt day on day to $207.08/mt on Feb. 19, Platts data showed, but remained below the breakeven level of $280-$300/mt.