The global synthetic fiber price decline that began late last year continued through the first two 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 7.1% in February, its worst showing in almost a year and a half. At the root of the sliding prices were sluggish demand for apparel and other textile products around the world, an overabundant supply of fiber raw materials, and declining oil prices.
In Asia, the world’s largest fiber-producing region, prices dropped 10.7% in February, more than January’s 9.6%, and finished the month more than 21% below the world average.
Virtually all of the decline was due to polyester prices. In China, the expected post-holiday rebound in business failed to materialize, so polyester fiber prices slid on lower raw material costs and weak demand for filament fabrics and spun yarn. India currently has a significant overcapacity which, coupled with slowing demand, has reportedly squeezed texturizing margins to an unsustainably low level. In Pakistan, filament fiber and spun yarn prices fell in the month in response to the softness in Chinese prices.
Nylon (polyamide) prices were unchanged in February, despite a continued slide in intermediates prices accompanied by weak seasonal demand. Acrylic yarn prices declined slightly in China.
Spandex prices, which remained unchanged in February, are expected to increase in coming weeks. Seasonal demand for spandex-containing fabrics is expected to rebound, and in the local Chinese market, a growing share of ready-to-wear contains spandex. Although spandex fiber production capacity is expected to increase slightly, it won’t be enough to reduce prices.
The European synthetic fiber price index dipped 1.7% in the month, on top of a similar decline in January. European synthetic prices are more than 24% above the world average, however.
The U.S. index fell by 4.5%, more than double January’s 1.9% drop, and putting the U.S. synthetic fiber prices index almost 47% above the global average.
Uncertainty over the situation in Ukraine and its effect on oil prices could change the supply side dynamics considerably in the coming months.