The Asian paraxylene-toluene spread neared a six-year low Thursday, October 9, as PX prices weakened on ample supply, against relative firmness in the toluene market, Platts data showed.
The Asian PX-toluene spread was assessed at $92.50/mt on a FOB Korea basis Thursday, down $8/mt day on day, the lowest since being assessed at $89/mt on November 13, 2008. PX makers typically need a spread of at least $150/mt to break even.
Asian PX fell $40/mt in the previous two sessions — down $27/mt Wednesday and $13/mt Thursday — to $1,135.5/mt FOB Korea Thursday, during a period of strong selling activity.
Over the same period, Asian toluene prices also fell, but by only $4/mt to $1,043/mt FOB Korea, supported by a firm November toluene market.
The November/December differential increased to $4/mt Wednesday after flipping into a $1/mt backwardation Tuesday.
Market sources told Platts that cargoes for November loading were becoming harder to come by, pushing the price of cargoes for this period higher. One trader also said there were more keen buyers than sellers.
The November PX spot market is easing from October due to an increase in supply, with Jurong Aromatics’ 800,000 mt/year plant in Singapore heard to have started shipping its first PX cargo to offtakers recently, according to market sources. India’s state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp. recently started PX and benzene production from its new Mangalore plant, but the facility has shut and restarted several times due to various issues.
Japan’s JX Nippon Oil and Energy plans to run its PX plants at an average rate of 75% of capacity over October-December, up from 60% in the third quarter.