News Code : 43127

Petrotahlil :The Asian petrochemical market is expected to be mixed this week. While benzene is expected to see continued support from firm buying interest and a strong China market, paraxylene hinges on downstream purified terephthalic acid amid a volatile September PTA futures last week and polyethylene.

terephthalate/polyester operation cuts. In olefins, market participants will be monitoring supply conditions closely.

AROMATICS

Asian paraxylene prices were assessed down $0.67/mt from Thursday at $837/mt CFR Taiwan/China and $818/mt FOB Korea Friday. Week on week, the CFR Taiwan/China marker was assessed down $1/mt. Discussions were mostly rangebound last week, with buyers remaining cautious due to declines in the downstream Chinese PTA futures market, while sellers were hesitant to offload their cargoes as upstream crude oil and naphtha prices stayed firm. In plant news, JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy shut its PX units in Kawasaki and Oita early last week due to technical issues. Duration of the shutdowns is currently unclear.

FOB Korea benzene prices jumped $30/mt on the week to $660.33/mt FOB Korea Friday, amid firm buying interest for August-loading cargoes, and riding on strong domestic East China prices. Market sources said that with vessel chartering underway for shipments bound for the US in August, traders

working the trade route would be keen to procure additional cargoes ahead of declaration. Amid strength in August, the backwardation between August and September widened to plus $14/mt FOB Korea last Friday.

In the East China market, the downtrend in domestic prices towards the end of last week was said to be a "price correction". The East China market rose Yuan 276/mt between last Monday and Wednesday, only to fall Yuan 50/mt between Thursday and Friday. Firm prices could still continue, as low import levels will likely persist until the second half of July. Bullishness last week also stemmed from the fact that Sinopec, a major Chinese benzene producer, increased its domestic ex-tank price twice during the week, which stood at Yuan 5,050/mt on Friday.

Asian styrene monomer prices inched $16.50/mt higher week on week to $1,074/mt CFR China and $1,034/mt FOB Korea Friday amid an unclear short-term market outlook. More supply is expected and the market is monitoring the supply situation closely, especially after South Korea's Hanwha Total

Petrochemicals restarted its styrene monomer units early-July after the safety checks earlier, sources said. Styrene monomer production margins remained firm, hovering at around $170-$180/mt last week.

OLEFINS

Asian ethylene would likely remain firm this week, but some market sources said the price increase would likely be limited as steam cracker operations would be increasing with the turnaround season coming to an end.

The Asian butadiene market rose $15/mt last week, with prices delivered to Northeast Asian markets (barring China) at $1,120/mt CFR levels. This was amid active trading and tighter supplies across Asia.

Several trades were heard done, with prompter cargoes trading at higher prices. The market is expected to remain stable, or weaken, should supply issues ease, sources said.

INTERMEDIATES

Asian PTA prices are expected to remain volatile this week amid various uncertainties. Many trade participants said PTA would likely continue the downward trajectory this week. In supply, China's Fuhaichuang Petroleum and Petrochemical postponed the maintenance of its 4.5 million mt/year PTA lines to either Tuesday or Wednesday this week, a source close to the company said Monday. The shutdown could provide support to PTA prices if it proceeds as planned. On the demand side, multiple downstream polyester and PET (bottle grade) producers said a cut in operations amid a squeeze in profit margins was weighing on PTA prices. Demand along the whole polyester chain has been waning with polyester sales-to-production ratio averaging 20% at the end of last week, sources said.

Asian monoethylene glycol rose $10/mt week on week to $546/mt CFR China last Friday amid a bullish sentiment. Spot trading discussions are expected to remain tepid this week, sources said. MEG inventories fell 69,000 mt week on week to 1.182 million mt last Thursday at the main ports of eastern

China, sources said, the lowest level since mid-February. Some trade participants attributed the fall in MEG stocks to shipment delays.

Fundamentals in the Chinese methanol market are expected to be bearish amid ample imports of August cargoes. A few traders were heard offering Venezuelan-origin cargoes for end-July and first half of August arrival at $274-$275/mt CFR China, but buying interest was tepid, which illustrated that the

Chinese methanol market was weak, sources said. Length was similarly seen in India, Southeast Asia, South Korea and Taiwan, with demand expected to be impaired by slow global economic growth.

POLYMERS

Asian low density polyethylene was assessed up $10/mt in China on a slight improvement in demand. Sentiment firmed after the US and China reached a truce during the latest G20 meeting, end converters said.

Asian polypropylene prices rose amid a bullish sentiment from futures. Actively-traded September PP futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange climbed Yuan 436/mt week on week to Yuan 8,835/mt ex-warehouse by last Wednesday's close.

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