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Bullish run persists in Asia’s ABS markets, Europe follows suit

  • 05/12/2017 (04:11)
In Asia, ABS markets already responded to the bullish run of crude oil and spot styrene prices in early November. Although the bullish trend was not initially supported by real demand, maintenance shutdowns also supported Asian sellers’ firm stance.

In recent weeks, demand in China’s ABS market has slightly improved amidst firmer offers ahead of the approaching Christmas and the Chinese New Year whereas buyers in Southeast Asia continue to resist ABS hikes.

According to ChemOrbis Price Index, import ABS prices have risen by more than $100/ton on average both in China and Southeast Asia since the upturn kicked off. Styrene prices as well as limited supplies from regional producers have paved the way for the increases recorded so far. A source from a Thai producer reported, “We have no allocations to offer to the export markets for the time being.”

After posting decreases for the past three months, the European ABS market has also changed direction this week in the wake of firmer upstream costs and Asian markets. Increase expectations for December encouraged European buyers to engage in pre-buying activities in November, which has resulted in reduced availability for ABS.

Prior to the monomer settlements, a distributor reported, “Availability is not ample as our suppliers are refraining from giving extra allocations to us and lead times are longer. ABS prices are likely to be firmer in December following three months of price drops.”

Late last week, December styrene contracts settled with €95/ton hikes in line with the expectations. The main reason behind the contract hikes was cited as the approaching maintenance shutdowns at major producers’ styrene units in the Q1 2018. Following monomer settlements, price announcements from Ineos Styrolution and Trinseo came with respective hikes of €75/ton and €60/ton, exceeding market expectations of €40/ton increases for December as it is a short month due to the Christmas festivities.

Similarly, Asian sellers’ firmer stance was reflected on Turkey’s import market, which has increased by around $50/ton on average since the beginning of November, according to ChemOrbis Price Index.
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