Global monomer markets end March on a firm note
Global monomer markets ended March on a firm note amidst steady to slightly firmer spot prices on a global scale as per the pricing service of ChemOrbis. Spot propylene and ethylene prices increased in Asia and the US in the last week of March. In Europe, however, spot ethylene and propylene prices were stable to softer in contrast to higher contract settlements. As for styrene, global spot markets followed a stable to slightly firmer trend over the past week, but the most recent increases failed to move prices back above their early March levels.
Spot propylene prices surged by $85/ton on FOB South Korea basis compared to the previous week in Asia, while the most recent prices represented a larger increase of $115/ton when compared to early March. The bullish trend was mainly attributed to concerns regarding restricted availability. Technical issues at several regional crackers resulted in shutdowns or lower operating rates in South Korea and Japan.
The European spot propylene market remained on a firm note moving into April with steady levels on FD NWE basis, which also indicated a €15/ton increase over March 1. Also, April propylene contracts settled up €50/ton ($67/ton) from March on the back of firm naphtha costs over the past month. The US propylene market also remained on a firm note along with higher spot prices and hike targets from sellers for April contracts. Despite unsatisfactory demand, spot propylene values soared $105/ton (4.75 cents/lb) on DLVD USG basis in the last week of March, posting a $61/ton (2.75 cents/lb) increase from the start of the month. Additionally, producers revealed hike targets of $110/ton (5 cents/lb) for the new month says ChemOrbis.
Spot ethylene markets recorded increases in Asia and the US due to supply disruptions in both regions. In Asia, spot ethylene prices rose by $25/ton week over week on CFR Northeast Asia basis, with the most recent prices standing $80/ton above the levels recorded in early March. Tight availability stemming from cracker outages overshadowed thin demand, some market sources commented. Similarly, supply constraints in the US led an increase of $143/ton (6.5 cents/lb) in spot propylene prices on an FD USG basis when compared to the week before as well as the start of March.
Meanwhile, spot ethylene costs on FD NWE basis plunged €80/ton in the last week of March, representing an €85/ton fall with respect to early March. At the same time, April ethylene contracts were settled with monthly increases of €40/ton ($53/ton). Lower spot ethylene costs combined with slower demand from derivative markets prevented a larger increase from passing on contracts, sources told ChemOrbis.
Spot styrene markets closed last month on a relatively firmer trend after gradually weakening throughout most of March on a global scale. In Asia, spot styrene costs gained $15/ton on FOB South Korea basis last week, with the recent level posting a $20/ton drop compared to the beginning of March.
In Europe and the US, spot styrene offers on FOB NWE and FOB USG basis managed to hold steady heading to the month of April, although they still stood $50/ton and $23/ton (1.05 cents/lb) below the prices reported on March 1. Now, players are waiting for new styrene contracts to settle in Europe to have a clearer idea for the April outlook. At the end of last week, an initial April benzene contract settled down €37/ton ($49/ton) from March settlement, which creates some downward pressure on new styrene contracts.