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China’s import ABS market stabilizes amidst talks of higher prices

  • 21/02/2017 (09:59)
The upward momentum in China’s import ABS market has ended in the past week, following the softening trend in the monomer markets in the region. In Asia, the spot styrene market has softened around $55-60/ton on FOB Korea basis over the past week. Spot butadiene prices also witnessed a decline of $70/ton on a weekly basis after following a stable trend for around a month. However, both styrene and butadiene costs are at higher levels compared to early this year, which is still supporting sellers’ hands.

A Taiwanese producer kept its ABS offers stable to China over the past week after implementing cumulative increases of $120/ton following the Chinese New Year holidays. A South Korean producer also revealed its March ABS offers to the country at the previous week’s levels.

However, players’ expectations are calling for further gains over the medium term. A source from the South Korean producer highlighted that ABS prices have room for further hikes as the styrene market can be supported by the upcoming turnaround season despite the recent reductions in spot prices.

Another producer said, “Styrene prices have decreased in China due to higher inventory levels. This was the reason why ABS prices remained stable during the past week. However, the styrene outlook is quite firm in the US amidst low supplies and we believe that the Asian market will follow the trend in the US in the near term,” a source from the producer commented.

Looking at the upcoming maintenance shutdowns for styrene in the region, at least eleven producers are preparing for maintenances while the ongoing tightness in the US continues to lend support to the market. Recently, market sources also reported that Americas Styrenics extended the maintenance at its plant to the second quarter of this year from mid- March.

Meanwhile, the Asian ACN market is following a firming path, which has posted further hikes of $70/ton over the past week. The current levels are up $110/ton from the beginning of this month.
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