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Asian Fiber Prices Suffer a Surprise Drop in December

After stabilizing somewhat in November, global synthetic fiber prices dropped in December, hurt by soft demand in Asia. This could just be the beginning of a slow and steady overall decline in synthetic fiber, yarn and textile prices, as demand for apparel and other textile products continues to slow around the world.

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 2.5% in the last month, compared to a 0.8% drop in the month prior. This brings global synthetic fiber prices down 4% over this time last year.

In Asia, the world’s largest fiber-producing region, prices dropped 4.8% in December, three times November’s 1.6% rate of decline.

In China, polyester fiber prices continued their steady downward slide resulting from lower raw material costs, particularly that of PTA, coupled with weak demand for filament fabrics and spun yarn. A buildup in filament yarn inventory is also being blamed for falling prices in India.

Downward pressure on spun yarn prices and lower intermediates prices will no doubt continue to challenge polyester spinners in China.

Nylon (polyamide) prices slid unexpectedly toward the end of the year, following a sharp drop in intermediates prices accompanied by weak seasonal demand. Caprolactam fell by more than 5% and benzene dropped over 3.5%. An increase in supply due to new capacity coming onstream could be part of the cause.

Although spandex prices remain high relative to one year ago, they began to fall in China in December, a reversal of the persistent firming trend earlier in the year. Acrylic yarn prices remained stable.

Asian synthetic fiber prices finished the year at more than 20% below the world average and 8% lower than at the end of 2012.

The European index dipped 0.7% in the month. European synthetic prices are about 23% above the world average, and finished 2013 3% higher than at the end of 2012.

The U.S. index was virtually flat. The U.S. synthetic fiber prices index was almost 46% above the global average and even with 2012’s year-end level.