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Global Synthetic Fiber Prices Plunge 13% in December on Crude Oil Declines

Global synthetic fiber prices fell by 13 percent in December, their fifteenth consecutive year-over-year decline and biggest monthly drop in more than two years, according to recent data from consulting firm PCI Fibres. Accelerating crude oil price declines were the main culprit: In the last four months of 2014, oil prices fell to almost $50 per barrel, half the September level.

In Asia, the world’s largest fiber-producing region, synthetic fiber prices fell by 15 percent in the month, their biggest decline in 15 months.

In China, polyester prices began to decline early in the month, after stabilizing somewhat in late November, a firming that was short-lived, according to industry reports. The rapid drop in crude oil prices and weak demand for fiber put tremendous pressure on both filament and staple prices. Staple prices fell to five-year lows, ending December at prices almost 5 percent lower than the prior month-end, and nearly 22 percent lower for the year (not a coincidence, since cotton’s price drop was the same for the year). Filament prices dropped by 4 percent in December, and fell 13 percent in 2014. Prices will likely remain at these levels until oil prices stabilize or fiber demand picks up considerably.

Nylon 6 prices in China fell by more than 2 percent in the month, ending the year down by a little over 10 percent. Spandex prices are also around 10 percent lower than year-ago levels, having dropped by almost 1 percent per month in each of the past several months due to slight decreases in intermediates prices and soft demand.

Asian synthetic fiber prices are more than 22 percent below the world average.

The European synthetic fiber price index fell by almost 13 percent, its biggest drop in more than two years, though European synthetic prices remained 23 percent above the world average.

The U.S. index fell by 8.9%, putting the U.S. synthetic fiber prices index at more than 52 percent above the global average.