MOSCOW (MRC) -- Crude oil futures ticked lower during mid-morning trade in Asia April 30, as prices pulled back from a six-week high due to weaker economic data from China, and persistent concerns over the progress of the pandemic in key economies around the world, reported S&P Global.
At 11:23 am Singapore time (0323 GMT), the ICE Brent June contract was down 32 cents/b (0.47%) from the April 29 settle at USD68.24/b, while the June NYMEX light sweet crude contract was down 36 cents/b (0.55%) at USD64.65/b.
The downturn in the market comes after oil prices had hit a six-week high on April 29, with front month ICE Brent and NYMEX light sweet crude contracts settling at USD68.56/b and USD65.01/b, respectively.
The rise in prices on April 29 was driven by signs of improving oil demand in China, Europe and the US. Optimism over the US economic recovery also provided some tailwind to the market, as the country had posted an annualized growth rate of 6.4% in Q1 2021, according to April 29 data from the Commerce Department.
This morning, however, prices came under pressure due to profit-taking activity, and weaker-than-expected Chinese Purchasing Managers' Index. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics released April 30 showed that the recovery in China's manufacturing and services sectors had slowed slightly, with manufacturing PMI at 51.1 in April from 51.9 in March, and non-manufacturing PMI at 54.9 in April from 56.3 in March.
"A weaker-than-expected Chinese manufacturing PMI weighed on sentiment," Margaret Yang, DailyFX strategist told S&P Global Platts April 30.
Yang also cited the resurgence of the pandemic in key economies, especially India, as a reason for the caution shown by investors this morning. The country reported a record 379,308 new cases and 3,645 deaths on April 28, latest data from John Hopkins University showed. "Viral resurgence in India appears to be a key concern among Asia-Pacific investors, dampening the prospect of energy demand from the world's third-largest oil importer," she said.
Concerns over the deterioration of the pandemic situation in other countries, such as Japan and Brazil, has also soured sentiment in the market, with ANZ analysts saying in a April 30 note that "demand in (these two countries) is also likely to be hit by a surge in infections and new restrictions."
As MRC informed earlier, COVID-19 outbreak has led to an unprecedented decline in demand affecting all sections of the Russian economy, which has impacted the demand for petrochemicals in the short-term. However, the pandemic triggered an increase in the demand for polymers in food packaging, and cleaning and hygiene products, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company. With Russian petrochemical companies having the advantage of access to low-cost feedstock, and proximity to demand-rich Asian (primarily China) and European markets for the supply of petrochemical products, these companies appear to be well-positioned to derive full benefits from an improving market environment and global economy post-COVID-19, says GlobalData.
We remind that in December 2020, Sibur, Gazprom Neft, and Uzbekneftegaz agreed to cooperate on potential investments in Uzbekistan including a major expansion of Uzbekneftegaz’s existing Shurtan Gas Chemical Complex (SGCC) and the proposed construction of a new gas chemicals facility. The signed cooperation agreement for the projects includes “the creation of a gas chemical complex using methanol-to-olefins (MTO) technology, and the expansion of the production capacity of the Shurtan Gas Chemical Complex”.
Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).
According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated polyethylene (PE) consumption totalled 356,370 tonnes in the first two month of 2021, down by 9% year on year. Shipments of exclusively low density polyethylene (LDPE) increased. At the same time, polypropylene (PP) shipments to the Russian market was 246,870 tonnes in January-February 2021, up by 30% year on year. Supply of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased.