The Urethane Blog

Chinese Spandex Update

Will spandex price plunge with weaker demand?
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Spandex prices continued surging in recent one year and current price has hit the highest level since 2008. Recently, export orders did not chase up smoothly and domestic demand was soft. Some dealers started revising down price. Will spandex price plunge later? Does market fundamentals of spandex change?  blob.png Supply There will be above 110kt/year of new spandex capacity to be launched in the second half of 2021 in Chinese mainland and it may bring about 30kt of production increase according to the startup time. By Sep 26, the operating rate of spandex plants declined to 93% from 97% in end-Aug. The control of total amount and the intensity of energy consumption is expected to affect spandex supply in short run. Some spandex plants scaled down production by around 10-40%. Xiamen Lilong suspended production due to the pandemic, affecting near 2% of spandex operation rate. Most old spandex units are still expected to run at above 90% of capacity and new units will gradually start operation.

Spandex production is anticipated to gradually ascend in Q4. blob.png Inventory The spandex inventory inched up but remained low now (the normal level was 30 days), supportive to price. By Sep 26, spandex inventory rose by around 8.5 days to above 13 days compared with early-Aug.  Supply tightness of conventional spandex varieties has eased, while stocks of medium-to-high denier spandex rose rapidly. The order change still should be concerned in Oct. If orders chase up, spandex inventory may accumulate slowly even if fabric mills only purchase spandex on a need-to-basis. That means price of spandex may be late to reduce. The price competition is supposed to be fierce again if the gap between production and sales expands demand.

The tempo of traditional peak season and dull season has been disrupted by the pandemic. The operating rate of downstream fabric mills was around 20 percentage points higher on the year in Jan-Aug, 2021 and around 10 percentage points higher than the 2019 level. However, the run rate apparently dipped after Aug. Affected by the control of total amount and intensity of energy consumption, dyeing plants’ operating rate obviously dropped in Zhejiang and Jiangsu, which will be bearish for the later operating rate of fabric mills.  blob.png The inventory of elastic fabrics was not high now. Stocks of some nylon/spandex air covered yarn, dralon fabrics and small circular knitting fabrics were above 1 month, mainly for the production of autumn and winter clothes. The stocks of high-density circular knitted fabric, polyester/spandex air covered yarn, cotton core-spun yarn and warp knitting super soft fabric were at 10-15 days.  Downstream buyers were unwilling to hoard up stocks when price of polyester and cotton was weak and that of NFY rose limitedly.

Price of spandex stopped rising and turned to shiver recently. Supported by low inventory, stable spandex price was supportive to the stabilizing of grey fabric price and the processing fee of covered yarn. If spandex price dips apparently, earlier spandex inventory will be depreciated and it will have negative influence on later orders for fabrics.  Cost Prices of PTMEG and BDO apparently rose and major feedstock cost of spandex was above 41,000yuan/mt for the first time, while spandex price shivered at high level. The price spread between spandex and its major feedstock has apparently narrowed to 7,500yuan/mt since end-Jul. 

Spandex price may be peaked affected by limited downstream orders and the control of total amount and intensity of energy consumption. Weakening demand surrenders weaker support to spandex price. Some spandex suppliers have revised down price. Spandex market are turning to be buyers’ market. Many buyers require discounts in actual transactions. Few dealers and fabric mills start underselling spandex. Price of spandex is not expected to plunge in short run supported by low inventory and firm feedstock price. New spandex units are scheduled to gradually commission operation and stocks of spandex may not rise much in short run. Therefore, price of spandex is expected to be firm in short run but weak in long run.