The styrene monomer (SM) market in China is seeing a slow recovery in domestic demand, but there is a sense of abundance in supply. However, strong exports supported the market after the Chinese New Year holidays in February. According to traders, the export volume of Chinese products traded for February to April loading amounted to 160,000 tons.
The background to the firm tone in exports is that several SM facilities have been halted overseas, and there is a growing sense of a shortage in supply. In the United States, many petrochemical facilities were shut down due to the cold weather in February. Further, in Europe, some SM facilities stopped operations due to troubles. Under these circumstances, demand from South Asia such as India and Pakistan increased.
About the outlook, in China, CSPC and Sinochem Quanzhou's SM facilities are scheduled to be launched in the latter half of March. In addition, SM facilities that had been undergoing regular maintenance are beginning to resume operations, and supply is on the increase. Furthermore, exports are also retreating due to the resumption of operation of SM facilities in Europe and the completion of regular maintenance of SM facilities in the Middle East. For this reason, there is a strong sense of bearishness after April.