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Sluggish Demand for Polyester in Asia Depresses Global Synthetic Prices

After four months of increases, synthetic fiber prices finally declined in October, impacted by both sluggish demand and declining prices in Asia.

According to data released by consulting firm PCI Fibres, the global synthetic fiber price index, which tracks the weighted average price for acrylic, nylon, polyester and polypropylene filament yarns and staple fibers, fell by 1.1% compared to October 2012.

In Asia, the world’s largest fiber-producing region and therefore the most important pricing barometer, prices dropped by 3.2% compared to the same month last year, their second monthly price drop.

Polyester fiber prices have been dropping steadily in China for the past few months due to a slowing in demand for filament fabrics and spun  yarn. An unconfirmed report estimates that the polyester filament yarn sector has been operating at about 60% capacity in the region, down from 75% a month ago. As a result of weak demand and declines in crude oil prices, prices of polyester intermediates (PTA, MEG, paraxylene, etc.)  have also been falling in the Asian market, which means the prices declines could continue for a while.

Demand and pricing for nylon remains stable, though raw material costs, particularly those of caprolactam, have risen lately, which is expected to put upward pressure on fiber prices.

Spandex prices are expected to continue rising due both to strong demand from the automotive sector and to spandex’s increased penetration of the ready-to-wear apparel market. Sales-to-capacity is about 90% in China. Acrylic yarn prices dropped slightly in the past month.

Asian synthetic fiber prices remain 19% below the world average.

The European index swung to an increase of 1.5% from last month’s 1.4% drop. European synthetic prices are about 23% above the world average.

The US index rose by .8%, and remains 43% above the world average.