Ethylene prices noticed strong in Asia

Asian ethylene continued firming Friday, rising $10/mt day on day, buoyed by healthy spot demand in China ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays next week. On a week on week basis, spot prices rose $45/mt. Participants were completing last minute buying in the spot market this week, driven by firm demand from the styrene monomer sector where margins have been positive. This week, the Asian styrene monomer margin was hovering above $100/mt, in line with firmer spot styrene prices, according to data. Market sources said spot demand also emerged in China for ethylene-oxide following the recent EO capacity expansion there. Asian monoethylene glycol margins have been hovering at around minus $150-$180/mt this week,  data showed. Looking forward, market sources said it was unclear if Asian ethylene would continue rising as margins for most ethylene derivatives were currently negative. Asian polyethylene ethylene margin was calculated at minus $45/mt Friday, much lower than a typical breakeven spread of plus $150/mt, according to data. Some market sources said integrated producers would start considering selling spot ethylene cargoes, reducing their downstream plant runs amid positive ethylene margins. The recent strength in Asian ethylene pushed up the ethylene-naphtha spread above $570/mt this week, the highest level since September 2018,  data showed. The spread is higher than a breakeven spread of $350/mt. Rationale Spot prices rose $10/mt day on day to be assessed at $1,085/mt CFR Northeast Asia and $985/mt CFR Southeast Asia Friday. The tradable level was in the high-$1,000s/mt CFR Northeast Asia and high-$900s/ mt CFR Southeast Asia Friday. Rationale CFR China MEG price was assessed flat day on day at $625/mt on Friday for 15-30 days forward cargoes, reflecting a trade discussion heard at this level, and below an offer heard at $630/mt. China domestic price was assessed flat at Yuan 5,100/mt over the same period, reflecting tradable discussions heard at this level. CFR Southeast Asia MEG was assessed up $7/mt week on week at $630/mt on Friday, for 15-30 days forward cargoes, amid thin trade discussions, $5/mt higher than the CFR China marker.

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