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China’s PP and PE markets return from holiday on a weak note

by Pınar Polat - ppolat@chemorbis.com
  • 12/10/2023 (02:05)
Chinese PP and PE players have started to return to their desks after the lengthy Golden Week holidays, with initial price levels indicating rollovers to slight decreases from pre-holiday levels as was expected.

Higher supply pressure and slow demand at home post-holiday as well as the steady losses in Dalian futures prices and the uncertainty in energy markets have been blamed for the current trend.


Local dynamics underpin weakness

On September 28, the final day before the holiday, the two major producers’ combined polyolefin inventories fell to 525,000 tons. As a result of the accumulation during the holiday period, there was a 57% increase in overall supplies which stood at 825,000 tons on October 9.
At the time of the writing on October 11, meanwhile, overall supplies were standing at 785,000 tons.

This rise has exerted a downward pressure on spot prices, particularly in the domestic markets. Coupled with the steady downturn in futures prices, PP and PE prices posted up to CNY300/ton ($41/ton) decreases.

A market player said, “Local polyolefin inventories accumulated over the past week, and supply pressure has increased. And demand is weak as buyers are still not actively stocking up. Moreover, crude oil futures fell sharply during the holidays, causing PP and LLDPE futures to fall right after the holidays.”

From October 9 to 11, January LLDPE and PP futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange settled steadily lower for the three daily sessions and posted total losses of CNY311/ton ($43/ton) and CNY380/ton ($52/ton), respectively.

Middle East origin prices slightly lower

PP

When compared to the pre-holiday levels, homo-PP raffia, and inj. prices for Middle Eastern origins have been stable to $10/ton lower at $890-920/ton CIF China, cash. As for PPBC inj.,a similar trend has been in place, with prices standing at $920-950/ton with similar terms.

PE

When compared to the pre-holiday levels, LLDPE and HDPE film prices for Middle Eastern origins have softened by $10-15/ton to $930-975/ton and $970-1010/ton CIF China, cash, respectively. As for LDPE film, prices have been stable at $990-1050/ton with similar terms.

Eyes on oil, will it be a game-changer?

While crude oil prices mostly weakened during the holiday period, there were signs of a rebound earlier this week amid the conflict in the Middle East. Sellers are now closely monitoring the developments in the energy markets to be prepared for any impact on their pricing.

Another trader commented, “The escalating tension in the Middle East is adding new risks to the global economic outlook, which may trigger higher oil prices. In case of this, China’s polyolefin markets may be pressured by opposite factors in the near term considering multiple bearish factors at home.”

On Wednesday’s intraday trading, crude oil futures plunged again following the knee-jerk reaction on Monday.
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