POLYMERS: Market participants noted a slowdown in trade activity in the week ended Oct. 16 and the expectation is that demand may be waning.
Market players hit the sidelines against perceived high prices for pellets, sources said. Still, participants will look to manage inventories with 2 ½ months left in the year. Meanwhile, the US polypropylene market is expected to remain snug amid limited spot availability for domestic and export participants. Total Petrochemicals & Refining USA announced it will modify its proposed October increase of its polypropylene products by 4 cent/lb to Nov. 1. Market players said they expected pricing to remain firm in the short term.
VINYLS: Export polyvinyl chloride prices were expected to hover in a range of $1,045-$1,055/mt FAS Houston this week as activity slows before negotiations begin for limited November volumes. Market sources heard expected prices to soften in November, but two force majeures on PVC from Formosa Plastics USA and Westlake Chemical declared in August remained in effect Oct. 19, and Shintech had reduced rates at its Plaquemine, Louisiana, PVC complex amid ongoing maintenance. In addition, the latest industry statistics showed upstream US chlor-alkali rates at 71% in September, reflecting Westlake's shutdown of its Lake Charles, Louisiana, complex before Hurricane Laura's Aug. 27 landfall. The complex includes three chlor-alkali units. Westlake had begun restarting those units by early October, but had to shut them down again ahead of Hurricane Delta's Oct. 9 landfall. Earlier, chlor-alkali rates ranged from 72% to 76% in May through August after plunging to 68% in April from 90% in March amid the height of widespread coronavirus pandemic-related shutdowns. Market sources said producers were wary of raising those rates despite strong downstream PVC demand, particularly in the domestic market, because caustic soda demand has softened and those prices were seen weakening.
METHANOL & MTBE: US spot methanol prices are expected to be stable this week, with talk of at least one continued regional production outage balanced by talk of the return of some production to the market. MTBE prices are expected to be relatively stable on the week, with talk of a continued production outage heard to be adding some price support.
LATIN AMERICA: Latin American polymers are expected to see stability in imports and domestic markets of Brazil and the West Coast of South America, with unchanged fundamentals in the region. Local sources continue to report a lack of availability of polyethylene and polypropylene products in the domestic market of Brazil. Domestic prices are at record high levels and sources say local producer Braskem is not willing to increase prices any further next month, but the decision will be made closer to the end of October. One of the main reasons for Braskem's latest increases in prices is the devaluation of local currency, the Brazilian real. The foreign exchange rate started the week around Real 5.57/$1, with the real showing further devaluation compared with a week earlier. The PVC market in Latin America is expected to see higher prices as a reflection of higher global values.
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Source : Platts