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Global Synthetic Fiber Prices Decline in May

The global synthetic fiber price decline that began late last year and intensified in early 2014 continued last month, according to the most recent data from consulting firm PCI Fibres. The index measuring the average price for acrylic, nylon, polyester and polypropylene filament yarns and staple fell by 4 percent in May, more than April’s 3.5% drop, though less than March’s 5.7% decline.

The growing fashion preference for synthetic fibers over cotton was more than offset by slowing global demand for apparel and other textile products, and a persistent oversupply of polyester capacity.

In Asia, the world’s largest fiber-producing region by far, prices dropped by almost 9 percent in May compared to last year, on top of a 7 percent drop in April. Nearly all of the decline was attributed to China, where polyester prices dipped to levels not seen since the Great Recession. Excess capacity for polyester intermediates caused a sharp drop in raw materials prices early in the month, though they rebounded a bit toward the end. Polyester staple prices held up better than those for filament yarns.

Asian nylon (polyamide) prices were stable in the month, but have fallen almost 9 percent in the past year. Rising prices of intermediates, particularly caprolactam, have squeezed margins for fiber producers. The seasonal demand that usually helps firm prices has not yet materialized in the region.

Spandex prices were flat in May due to reported soft demand.

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

The European synthetic fiber price index rose by a stunning 4.3% in the month, the only region to register an increase. Though a relatively small part of global usage, European mills pay synthetic prices that are more than 27 percent above the world average.

The U.S. index fell by 1.6%, putting the U.S. synthetic fiber prices index almost 49 percent above the global average.