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Global Synthetic Fiber Prices Plunge Again in January

Global synthetic fiber prices fell by 19 percent in January, their sixteenth consecutive year-over-year decline and sixth straight month of accelerating drops, according to recent data from consulting firm PCI Fibres. Key reasons for the decline were crude oil prices, which fell another 8 percent in January, higher-than-normal fiber and fabric inventories, and slowing demand for fibers in China ahead of the New Year holiday.

In Asia, the world’s largest fiber-producing region, synthetic fiber prices fell by 21.7% in the month, their biggest decline in more than two-and-a-half years.

In China, polyester prices continued to fall in the first two weeks of the month, extending December’s trend, due to the sharp drop in crude oil prices and continued weak demand for fiber, but reportedly bottomed out mid-month and remained stable through the end of January as mills began to prepare for the lunar New Year break. Despite the stabilization in the last two weeks, the price declines for the total month were significant. Staple prices fell to five-year lows, ending January at prices more than 10 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 13 percent in January.

Nylon (type 6) prices in China fell by more than 10 percent in the month, following a sharp decline in raw materials prices. Caprolactam prices are reportedly more than 30 percent lower than this time next year. However, there are indications that prices may have bottomed out and begun to stabilize in the final two weeks of the month.

Spandex prices in China fell by almost 2 percent in the month, and remain around 12 percent lower than year-ago levels. Chinese spandex producers have been slow to expand capacity in light of market uncertainty.

Asian synthetic fiber prices are more than 23 percent below the world average.

The European synthetic fiber price index fell by more than 21 percent, its biggest drop in nearly two and a half years, though European synthetic prices remained almost 20 percent above the world average.

The U.S. index fell by 13 percent, putting the U.S. synthetic fiber prices index almost 60 percent above the global average.