Exchange rate risk keeps CFR China buyers wary

leaving prices $1.83/mt lower from Tuesday at $596.17/mt FOB Korea. The fall in FOB Korea bucked the trend in related ICE Brent and naphtha markets, with April ICE Brent crude oil futures up 45 cents/b from Tuesday at $61.93/b at 0830 GMT Tuesday, while Mean of CSG Japan naphtha was up $11.13/mt at $496.25/mt. Market sources had expected a recovery in prices led by CFR China and East China domestic prices, but domestic prices started to fall in the afternoon, and CFR China bids and offers disappeared. Also, there was talk about the sharp depreciation of the Yuan, which had been stable last week amid the Lunar New Year holidays. The yuan-dollar rate started the week at 6.7495, compared with 6.7081 last week. This resulted in a diversion in East China prices and its import-parity equivalent, with the East China marker up Yuan 13/mt from Tuesday at Yuan 4,890/mt, while the import-parity marker down $2.10/mt over the same period at Yuan 4,890/mt. This kept CFR China discussions thin, as exchange rate risk amid a volatile yuan weighed on buying sentiment. Nonetheless, a trader said Tuesday that CFR China buying interest was likely to hold firm at the moment, but could change if a pick up in US demand lifts the price of ex-China material. Inventory levels were heard unchanged over the Lunar New Year holidays, as shipments in and out of tanks ground to a halt over the festive season. East China stocks stood at 230,000 mt Tuesday, unchanged on the week, but up 80,000 mt on the year.

RATIONALE:

FOB Korea benzene was assessed down $1.83/mt from Tuesday at $596.17/mt Tuesday. The marker takes the average of the third, fourth and fifth half-month laycans, H1 March, H2 March, and H1 April. During the S&P Global CSG Market on Close assessment process Tuesday, there were no transparent bids and offers seen. The H1 and H2 March laycans were assessed at $593/mt FOB Korea, below an offer last seen at $594/mt FOB Korea. The H1 April laycan was assessed at $602.50/mt FOB Korea, between a bid and an offer seen at $602/mt and $603/mt FOB Korea, respectively. The CFR China marker was assessed at $609/mt, up $4/mt on the day, above a bid last seen at $605/mt CFR Jiangyin/Ningbo/Changzhou. The East China marker was assessed at Yuan 4,890/mt Tuesday, up Yuan 13/mt from Tuesday, or $612.32/mt on an import-parity basis.

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