Petrotahlil — Market sentiment for many olefins products in Asia is expected to be bearish during the week starting Jan. 25 amid the restart of major production units and a slow down in demand ahead of the Lunar New Year in mid-February.
Some pockets of demand, however, remain in the methanol market where supply disruptions are expected to support Asian prices in the coming weeks.
**Some end-users in China said they want to stockpile for the traditional peak manufacturing season from March, and said that the decline in prices during the week to Jan. 22 was temporary.
**Lockdowns in Asia have been extended to curb the spread of COVID-19, traders said, adding to weak demand.
**Polyethylene prices fell in the week to Jan. 22 due to soft demand ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays.
**Most Chinese and Southeast Asian PP buyers are staying on the sidelines amid waning demand ahead of the Lunar New Year. Meanwhile, international sellers are targeting more attractive markets like the Americas and Africa, leading to scarce physical spot trades in the two regions.
**South Asia will take direction from China and Southeast Asia ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays; demand for PP in India is likely to remain strong.
Purified terephthalic acid
**Market sentiment is likely to stay weak for Chinese PTA after Fujian Baihong Petrochemical started its new 2.5 million mt/year line at Jinjiang on Jan. 21, Platts reported earlier. The new line is running at half of its capacity currently, market sources said.
**Supply remains relatively tight outside of China, so Northeast Asian PTA producers have no interest in selling to China.
**In India, market participants will watch out for the trend in freight this week as the Taiwan-India rate was reportedly slightly lower in the week ended Jan. 22; spot trades likely to remain muted.
**The outlook for the Asian recycled high density polyethylene clear film prices is stable, with market participants saying there is insufficient material to recycle for post consumer waste as domestic waste collection is low, and as the recycled industry only accepts cash transactions.
**The outlook post-Lunar New Year is bullish as the February Asian Contract Price nominations had increased as MEG inventories in China fell to 781,000 mt, a one-year low.
**Asian MEG prices fell amid a seasonal lull ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays.
**Supply disruptions are expected to support Asian methanol prices in the coming weeks.
**An impending turnaround of a Malaysian methanol plant in February and an Indonesian methanol plant running at reduced rates until it gets spare parts and professional expertise on site, could see some of its customers requiring spot cargoes in the interim.
**Trade sources saw a few Chinese re-export cargoes fixed for Indonesia and Thailand. This demand for Chinese re-export cargoes, however, will likely strain the tight availability of spot cargoes in China further, trade sources said.
**Prices in China's propylene market are likely to soften after the likes of YNCC and LG Chemical produced on-specification products last week ended Jan. 22.
**YNCC aimed to produce at full capacity last weekend, and the Chinese were waiting for prices soften before taking positions.
**The East China domestic toluene market made noticeable improvement with spot and forward prices trending above Yuan 4,000/mt throughout Jan. 18-22, suggesting a steady support around the price range.
**However, stockpiling was slow over concerns of muted road fuel demand ahead as most consumers are not planning to travel much during the Lunar New Year holidays.
**Shifts are afoot in the Asian toluene market, and more so around South Korea and Japan as the benzene-toluene spread and paraxylene-toluene spread are showing signs of narrowing.
**FOB Korea benzene versus FOB Korea toluene physical spread narrowed to $107.67/mt on Jan. 22, from $116.33/mt a week before.
**Isomer-grade mixed xylene demand in key China market has been improving with a draw down in China's inventories and rising domestic prices. **Gasoline blending demand remains slow at the moment, but traders are eyeing a contango market with the gasoline-blending and solvents demand typically increasing towards the summer season in China.
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