Global synthetic fiber prices fell by 19 percent in February compared to the same month last year, their seventeenth consecutive month of year-over-year decline and seventh straight month of accelerating drops, according to recent data from consulting firm PCI Fibres. However, stabilizing crude oil prices helped stem price erosion compared to January.
Although crude oil prices recovered slightly, rising by 1.8% in the month, higher-than-normal inventories, economic uncertainty and slowing consumer demand continued to put downward pressure on every segment of the value chain.
In Asia, the world’s largest fiber-producing region, synthetic fiber prices fell by 20.7% in the month, a smaller decline than January’s 21.7% drop.
In China, the oil price recovery in the first two weeks of the month spurred demand as customers, perhaps concerned that a recovery in crude oil would mean a continued increase in fiber prices, placed higher-than-expected orders ahead of the New Year holiday. Both filament and staple prices increased from January’s levels, but how long this will last depends on what happens after China is back in full operation following the break. Staple prices, which had fallen to five-year lows in January, edged up by almost 3 percent in February, while filament prices edged up by between 1 and 2 percent.
Nylon (type 6) prices in China bottomed out and recovered a bit as well, with the basic counts down by only one percent compared to January’s 10 percent drop. Finer counts reportedly remained unchanged, however.
Spandex prices in China remained relatively unchanged in the month, though still lower than year-ago levels due to a slowing in demand and increased capacity that has caused inventory levels to rise.
Asian synthetic fiber prices are more than 22 percent below the world average.
The European synthetic fiber price index fell by more than 24 percent compared to February 2014, its biggest drop in nearly two and a half years, though prices there have reportedly stabilized in the past month, particularly in polyester filament. European synthetic prices remained almost 16 percent above the world average.
The U.S. index fell by more than 12 percent, putting the U.S. synthetic fiber prices index almost 60 percent above the global average. The West Coast port slowdown and lower fiber prices have helped buoy demand for U.S. yarn, and demand for both filament and staple in apparel textile counts remain relatively strong. Nylon prices have remained stable, while acrylic tow prices have increased slightly from January. The decline in oil prices has been challenging for recycled polyester, whose price advantage has narrowed significantly.
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