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Plunging Oil Prices Cause Manmade Fiber Freefall in October

The global synthetic fiber price index fell by 6.3% in October on top of an almost 5 percent drop in September, capping a 13-month slide in the measure, according to recent data from consulting firm PCI Fibres.

Though the falling price of cotton has put tremendous pressure on synthetic pricing in the past several months, declining crude oil prices, which have fallen by more than 10 percent since early September, and the resulting ingredients cost declines, have been the most recent cause of the downward pressure on manmade fiber pricing, helped along by overcapacity in fiber and raw materials production in Asia for both nylon and polyester.

In Asia, the world’s largest fiber-producing region, synthetic fiber prices fell by more than almost 8 percent in the month, their biggest decline in five months.

Most of the drop was due to declining polyester filament and staple prices in both China and India. The biggest drop in polyester prices actually occurred in the first three weeks of the month, followed by a bottoming out and slight rise in the last week. However, these remain far below their pre-holiday levels of September, and are not expected to firm appreciably as long as intermediates prices remain low and apparel market growth remains sluggish.

Asian nylon (polyamide) prices, after being relatively stable in September, also fell in October due to lower intermediates prices.

Spandex prices held on in the month despite reported soft demand because of tight supply. Spandex makers have enjoyed improved margins due to significantly lower intermediates costs. In China, PTMEG prices fell a reported 1 percent in the month.

Asian synthetic fiber prices are more than 21 percent below the world average.

The European synthetic fiber price index fell by almost 10 percent, the biggest plunge in more than two years, though European synthetic prices remain 19 percent above the world average.

The U.S. index was flat, putting the U.S. synthetic fiber prices index at almost 54 percent above the global average.