Asia isomer-MX prices hit 7-month low after starting 2013 on high note
By Michelle Kim in Singapore
March 22, 2013 - Asian isomer-grade mixed xylenes spot prices, which started the year on
a strong note, have been falling steadily since the last week of February to
hit seven-month lows March 19, and could be further pressured by weak demand
and ample supply, sources said.
Isomer-MX spot prices were assessed at $1,208.50/mt FOB Korea and
$1,218.50/mt CFR Taiwan March 19, both down $29.50/mt from March 18 due to firm
selling pressure. (See related graph: Asian isomer-MX ($/mt): January 2 - March 19, 2013
The prices were the lowest since August 2, 2012, when they
closed at $1,205.50/mt FOB Korea and $1,220.50/mt CFR Taiwan, according to
But the Asian isomer-MX market kicked off 2013 on a bullish note, mainly
driven by supply tightness.
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The FOB Korea marker hit a 4 1/2 year high of $1,427.50/mt on January 7,
the same day that South Korea's Hyundai-Cosmo Petrochem started commercial
operations at its 800,000 mt/year paraxylene plant in Daesan.
Supply tightness due to a shut US-Asia isomer-MX arbitrage also sent
isomer-MX prices higher early this year.
The arbitrage has been shut since November 20 last year.
But the isomer-MX market rally started to lose steam by the end of
February as supplies increased, due to higher operating rates at regional
plants, and demand eased off.
"Taiwanese end-users, such as CPC, reduced the volume of isomer-MX
buying this year, while isomer-MX producers kept high run rates on the
back of profitable isomer-MX/naphtha margin during January and February," a
trader said. (See related graph: Isomer-MX FOB Korea/Naphtha spread: November 2012 - March 2013).
Bearish downstream PX and purified terephthalic acid markets also
triggered a plunge in Asian isomer-MX prices early March.
Isomer-MX is mainly used as a feedstock to make PX, while PX is the main feedstock to produce PTA,
thus recent weaker downstream PX and PTA prices were adversely affecting the isomer-MX prices.
PTA is together with monoethylene glycol the major feedstock for polyester and PET.
On March 4, Asian isomer-MX collapsed by $58/mt day on day to 14-week
lows of $1,262.50/mt FOB Korea and $1,277.50/mt CFR Taiwan, due to tumbling PX
and PTA markets.
Next page: Asian isomer-MX could remain under pressure