– Demand stable but insufficient to lower inventory
– S Korea’s styrene imports surge 134% in March
Asian styrene monomer started the week lower at $1,061/mt CFR China and $1,021/mt FOB Korea Monday, down $10/mt from Friday amid thin trading and as the market looks for a clearer price direction. In east China domestic market, the prompt marker fell Yuan 100/mt from Friday to Yuan 8,100/mt ex-tank Monday. A trader said while downstream demand is relatively stable, it remains insufficient to eliminate the huge inventory and the market has been paying attention to the inventory situation. Sources further noted that styrene demand from the downstream market has improved from the previous week. “The market is expecting more styrene to arrive into China once most of the planned maintenances end in May,” a market participant said. According to market sources, total styrene inventory in east China fell slightly by 5,000 mt weeks on a week to 350,000 mt, with consumption of 24,000 mt exceeding arrivals of 19,000 mt. Upstream benzene and ethylene have also softened from Friday at $621/mt CFR China and $1,020/mt CFR Northeast Asia Monday. Styrene production margin remains healthy at $108.20/mt. In trade statistics news, South Korea’s styrene imports surged 133.6% on the month, or 302.9% year on year, to 77,540 mt in March amid tight supply during the turnaround season from March to May and robust downstream polystyrene production margins, which support the steady demand for the SM, market sources noted. Meanwhile, styrene exports from South Korea rose 11.4% on the month, or 18% year on year, to 54,653 mt in March.
Asian SM was assessed down $10/mt from Friday at $1,061/mt CFR China and $1,021/mt FOB Korea Monday. The markers currently take the average of the H1 May and H2 May laycans. There were no transparent bids or offers during the Platts Market on Close assessment process on Monday. H1 and H2 May were assessed at the pegged level of $1,061/mt. In the east China domestic market, the prompt marker was assessed down Yuan 100/mt from Friday at Yuan 8,100/mt ex-tank, equating to $1,047.14/mt on an import parity basis. The FOB Korea marker was assessed at $1,021/mt, based on the pegged $40/mt spread to CFR China, while the CFR Taiwan marker was assessed at $1,049/mt, based on the pegged $12/mt spread to CFR China.