SBR prices in Asia are set to rise further through January

(ICIS) -- Styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) prices in Asia are set to rise further through January on the back of soaring values of feedstock butadiene (BD), but weak demand will likely temper the price uptrend, industry sources said on Thursday. Offers this week for non-oil grade 1502 SBR have increased to USD3,000-3,100/tonne (EUR2,250-2,325/tonne) CFR (cost and freight) southeast (SE) Asia for fresh January and February 2012 shipments, up by USD200-300/tonne from December cargoes, they said.

Spot prices started to rally in late November after slumping 40% from early August, ICIS data showed. ⌠The main driver for the SBR price rebound is increasing feedstock BD costs, rather than demand. We are not optimistic about the first quarter of 2012 as there are concerns over a global slowdown next year, said a major tyre maker based in China.

BD prices rose toUSD2,100-2,150/tonne CFR NE Asia in the week ended 2 December, up by 35% from early November, according to ICIS.

BD is a major raw material in the production of SBR, making up more than 70% of the rubber's composition and cost. SBR is used in the production of tyres for the automotive industry. But auto sales in Asia have been slowing down, which will translate to weaker demand for tyres. Auto sales growth in China slowed to 3.2% in the first 10 months of 2011 against the 32% growth recorded in 2010, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Most major tyre makers in China, southeast (SE)Asia and India are operating at reduced rates of around 80%, industry sources said.


OPEC's Badri hopes EU doesn't ban oil imports from Iran

(platts) -- OPEC Secretary General Abdalla el-Badri said Wednesday he hoped that the European Union would not agree an oil import embargo on Iran over its controversial nuclear program.

Badri said a threat against any member of the oil producer club could affect oil supply to world markets and that an EU ban on oil imports from OPEC member Iran would remove a large volume of crude that would be difficult to replace.

"We are against threatening any OPEC country because that will effect production and supplies and the market. We want to solve those problems in peaceful ways without any threatening," Badri told reporters on the sidelines of the World Petroleum Congress in Qatar.

"I really hope that there will be no embargo from the EU," Badri said.

"But it is really very difficult to replace this 865,000 b/d that's coming to Europe, and Europe is now facing some cut 865,000 b/d immediately I think would be a problem," he said.


Changan saw only 3% rise in the first 10 months of 2011

(Reuters)-- Chongqing Changan Automobile, China's No.4 car maker was one of the obscure winners of Beijing's decision to release a flood of cash into its economy during the darkest moment of the global financial crisis.

After car sales growth of 46 percent in 2009 and 32 percent in 2010, the maker of the squat Ben Ben mini car and Changan Star van saw a modest 3 percent rise in the first 10 months of 2011. It also watched its share price plunge.

"China's leaders understand that safeguarding growth is very important, but in 2008 the government had more policy tools they could use," said Liang Youcai, a senior economist at the State Information Centre, a top government think-tank in Beijing.

"They won't unveil a large-scale economic stimulus anywhere close to the 4 trillion yuan program."
Beijing has reasons to steer clear of big stimulus, including the need to avoid firing up inflation, which remains relatively high.
A local government debt crisis is an awkward side effect of the government incentives in 2008, making stimulus a loaded word.

And a looming 2012 political transition that will see top leaders step down, leaves policymakers aiming for stability, not a big fiscal injection of cash into the economy.
Furthermore, China may have the fiscal leeway to do enough for the economy anyway, with the "fine tuning" that Premier Wen Jiabao has said will keep its economic engine running smoothly, analysts say.

China's latest five-year plan set a conservative GDP growth target of 7 percent, widely regarded as giving the government political leeway to rebalance the economy without having to simultaneously maintain breakneck economic expansion.

So whether by design or by default, major stimulus seems decidedly unlikely this time around.
Of course that may not do much good for China's automakers, with the industry facing an uphill struggle next year.
"I am not optimistic about Q4, and Q1 next year could be similar," Changan's president, Zhang Baolin. "China's car market next year is likely to remain in a slow growing trend overall."


Danone wins Bioplastics Award

(plasticsnews) -- Groupe Danone SA's German business has won the Bioplastics Award 2011 for its ⌠exceptional commitment to the extensive use of bioplastics in the packaging of its dairy brand products.

The judges particularly noted Danone GbmH's use of Ingeo polylactic acid in its Activia yogurt cups and Braskem biobased high density polyethylene in its Actimel yogurt drink bottles.

Andreas Knaut, Danone's director of corporate communications, said: ⌠We are very pleased about the award. A highly valued acknowledgement like this is wonderful confirmation of our achievement over years of research, and of our commitment in the field of bioplastics.

⌠We must get away from our dependence on petroleum and focus on packaging materials that come from renewable resources. We therefore hope that the award will motivate other companies to select bioplastics. It is only in this way that we will be able to establish a full recycling system, for example for PLA, and make full use of the material's potential.

The annual award was organized by Bioplastics Magazine based in Germany. The award was launched by European Plastics News in 2006, which jointly organized the award with Bioplastics Magazine in 2010.


China propylene to extend falls on weak demand

(ICIS) -- China's domestic propylene prices will likely fall further in the coming weeks because of weak demand, market sources said on Wednesday.

Spot prices closed at yuan (CNY) 9,300-9,350/tonne (USD1,467-1,475/tonne) ex-tank in Shandong province on Wednesday, down by CNY50-100/tonne from Tuesday, according to Chemease, an ICIS service in China.

⌠The demand from powered polypropylene (PP) sector is very weak amid falling prices, an east China-based propylene producer said.

⌠Many downstream small weaving bags factories will shut down in early January next year as China's Lunar New Year comes earlier than before. That means the demand in the next month will not improve, he said.

The Lunar New Year will be celebrated in China on 22-28 January next year.
Most propylene producers rush to offload cargoes at lower prices towards the end of the year, weighing on product prices, market sources said.

China's energy giant Sinopec has reduced its propylene offer by CNY200/tonne to CNY9,200-9,300/tonne ex-tank to cope with the lacklustre market condition, a company source said.