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Sluggish Demand Depresses Synthetic Fiber Prices in March

The global synthetic fiber price decline that began late last year has continued through the first three months of 2014. According to data released by consulting firm PCI Fibres, the index measuring the average price for acrylic, nylon, polyester and polypropylene filament yarns and staple fell by almost 6% in March compared to the same month last year, on top of a more than 7% drop in February and a 6% decline in January.

At the root of the sliding prices were sluggish demand for apparel and other textile products around the world, an oversupply of polyester capacity in Asia, and a slight decline in raw materials prices for polyester and nylon.

In Asia, the world’s largest fiber-producing region, prices dropped almost 10% in March, after a more than 10% drop in February. Virtually all of the decline was due to polyester prices dipping to near-historically-low levels. In China, the expected post-holiday rebound in business failed to materialize. Despite the volatility in oil prices due to the unstable situation in the Ukraine, occasional increases in raw materials costs failed to result in even a blip in polyester prices.

Nylon (polyamide) prices fell 2% in March in Asia due to declining demand and lower raw materials prices, and remain 5% below their levels of six months ago.

Spandex prices, which edged down slightly in March, primarily due to a slight increase in production capacity, remain about 10% higher than year-ago levels. Seasonal demand for spandex-containing fabrics is expected to rebound, and in the Asian market, a growing share of ready-to-wear contains spandex.

Asian synthetic fiber prices finished the year more than 21% below the world average.

The European synthetic fiber price index rose 2.2% in the month, the only region to register an increase in the month. European synthetic prices are more than 26% above the world average.

The U.S. index fell by 4.1%, about the same as February’s drop, putting the U.S. synthetic fiber prices index about 46% above the global average.