Q1 – 2019 (Jan, Feb, Mar)

Executive Summary

The commodity price trends in the first quarter are mixed in Asia. Many grades of Rubber, Metals, Wood, Paper, Ceramics raw materials prices were mostly down in price. While some grades of Steel, Alum, Textiles and Fuel prices were all go up. Also Labor rates were up in the lower wage countries. The trend for World Container Index was down. Only Plastics prices were mixed. The US Dollar was down a little bit against most of the Asian currencies in Q1. China imports saw slightly up while exports saw an obviously decline in this quarter. The China PPI was steady, and the China CPI was up marginally. The PMI USA indexes saw slightly down in Q1 while PMI China and PMI Hong Kong saw marginally improvement. Below is a chart of the general trends and for all the details, please see the entire report.

Executive Summary

Report Details


– The General Purpose plastic prices were mixed in first quarter. PS (GPPS/688B) and PE (LD400/Injection) were down marginally, while PP (K8303), HIPS (PH88) and PP(Food Grade) prices were all slightly up, with HIPS (PH88) up most which is over 3%, the rest of General Purpose plastic prices were unchanged. Year over year, PE (LD400/Injection), HIPS (PH88) and PVC (S700) prices are down 8.5%, 5.2% and 2.1% respectively, while PP (K8303), HDPE (HHMTR210), PS (GPPS/688B) and PP (Food Grade) are up on the average of 3.9%. Only PET (SE-3030) in price is steady versus one year ago.
Genral Plastic

– Similarly, the first quarter of engineering plastic prices were mixed, except for PU Foam was unchanged, Nylon (PA66), Nylon (PA6) and ABS were up 3.1%, 2.7% and 1.4% respectively, while PL (L-1250Y) and POM were down marginally. Year over year, ABS in price is obviously down 10.6%, followed by PU Foam is faintly down 1.6%, while the other prices are up on the average of 4.6% versus one year ago.
Engineering Plastic

– Most of the Rubber prices were down in Q1, SCR5 saw a little up which is over 2%. EPDM saw obviously down in price, which was over 8%. Latex, CR prices were all down over 2%, BR9000 was down marginally. NBR price was steady. Year over year, SCR5, Latex and NBR prices slightly up which are over 2%, while EPFM in price is down 8.3%, followed by CR down 3% and BR9000 down 2.6% versus one year ago.


– For the first quarter of 2019, most of the prices for Carbon Steel were up. Only Steel Wire in price down 2.3%. Hot Roll Steel Tube, Cold Roll Steel Sheet, Pig Iron and Hot Roll Steel Sheet were up on the average of 6.4%, while Cold Roll Steel Tube was steady. Year over year, Steel Wire and Cold Roll Steel Sheet were up 8.9% and 1.1% respectively. While Hot Roll Steel Tube, Hot Roll Steel Sheet and Cold Roll Steel Tube prices are all down slightly, which are over 4%. Pig Iron is unchanged in price versus one year ago.


– In the Stainless Steel part, most of the grades of prices were down in the first quarter, with 410, 420 and 201 in price down on average of 3.8%, but 304 in price was up marginally. The price of 430 was steady. Year over year, all the Stainless Steel prices are down, with 430 is down the most which is over 11%, followed by 420 is down 10%, and other grades of stainless steel prices are down on average about 4.1% versus one year ago.

Stainless Steel

– All aluminum prices were up faintly in the first quarter. Year over year, 6061 and A00 in price down 4.6% and 0.2% respectively, while the rest of grades in price are up slightly, with 1060 price up 3.5% and 3003 up marginally in price versus one year ago.


– In Other Industrial Metals, all grades trend was up in Q1. Nickel’s price was sharply up 16.6%, followed Brass Rod price up 7.3% and the rest of metals were up a little. Year over year, Nickel and Brass Rod metals prices are up 7.2% and 4.5% respectively. Other metals prices are down slightly, with Zinc price down most which is over 9% versus one year ago.
Industrial Metal


WOOD, PAPER & TEXTILES – Wood prices were slightly lower in Q1, except for Beech Hardwood and Pine Softwood were steady in price, MDF price was down 3%. Year over year, Beech Hardwood and Pine Softwood are up marginally. While MDF price is down 3% versus one year ago.


– While most grades prices of Paper Materials were down in the first quarter, with Kraft and Art paper were both sharply down over 14%, and others were down slightly. Only Corrugated Board price was up 4.6%. Similarly, year over year, all grades of paper in prices are decreasing, with Art Paper enormously down over 18% and others prices down on average of 10.7% versus one year ago.

– Textile fabric prices saw a little change in the first quarter, with Raw Cotton price was up 1.1% in price. While the rest grades prices were steady. Year over year, the grade in prices are mixed, with 100% Polyester Fabric price is significantly up 21.4%, but Raw Cotton price is down 0.9%. The rest of Textiles prices are unchanged versus one year ago.

Textile Fabric


-In Ceramic Raw Materials, the grades in price were slightly down in Q1, with Soda Ash is obviously down 13.6% and Alumina slightly down 1.7% in price, other grades in price were steady. Year over year, Alumina and Glaze prices are both up marginally, while Quartz price is down 3.8%. Other Ceramic and Glass material prices are steady versus one year ago.


Fuel prices in China were generally going up, with LPG , Diesel Oil and Natural Gas prices were obviously down in the range of 3% ~15% in the first quarter. However, Petroleum price was sharply down 15.4%. Meanwhile, year over year, except for Petroleum price is down over 15% , the rest fuels are up slightly in price between 6%~10% versus one year ago.


The World Container Index was sharply down 16.3% in the first quarter. To the contrary, year over year, the World Container Index is obviously up 13% versus one year ago.


Most of the Asian labor rates were up in Q1, with Bangladesh rate was significantly up 50.9%, followed by Indonesia rate up 9.4%, Vietnam and China rates are up over 2%. Thailand rate is no change. Similarly, year over year, rates are up in most countries with Bangladesh rate is sharply up the most (over 50%) followed by Indonesia (up 9.4%), China (up 7.8%), Vietnam and India both up over 5%, while Thailand rate is unchanged.


The World Container Index was sharply down 16.3% in the first quarter. To the contrary, year over year, the World Container Index is obviously up 13% versus one year ago.

For the first quarter, the USD was slightly weaker against the Thailand Baht, Indonesian Rupiah, India Rupees, China RMB, Chinese Yuan and Taiwan New Dollars, while slightly strength against Bangladesh Taka and Vietnam Dong. Year over year, the biggest gains for the USD are against the India Rupees and followed by China RMB, Taiwan New Dollars, Indonesia Rupiah and Vietnam Dong and while its slightly weaker against the Thai Baht.

CHINA TRADE (Data lags by one month)

– China Imports was slightly up 1.16% and Exports was obviously down 10.22% in the first quarter. To the contrary, year over year, China Imports is largely down 7.3 while Exports are sharply up 14.1 versus one year ago.

– The China Consumer Price Index (CPI) was faintly up 0.39% while the China Producer Price Index (PPI) is unchanged in the first quarter. Year over year, the China PPI is down 2.62% while the China CPI is up marginally versus one year ago.


China PMI and Hong Kong PMI were both down slightly. Only UAS PMI was slight down 0.18% in the first quarter. Year over year, China PMI, Hong Kong PMI and USA PMI are all down slightly, with UPS PMI down most which is over 8% followed by China PMI down 7.46% versus one year ago.


Thank you for taking the time to follow trends in Asia manufacturing. Source International has operational offices in Louisville, Kentucky & Xiamen, China. Our passion is to partner with companies in supply management from Asia. We have a 25 year on-the-ground track record, a rigorous operating procedure, and a very well trained local staff. We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can add value to your supply chain in Asia and invite you to visit our offices and website to learn more about us.

For additional details, please refer to the charts that follow or contact one of our Operations Specialists for more information. Thank you for your support.

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Data for this report comes from the sources listed and while every attempt is made to be as comprehensive and accurate as possible, please consider that these are just general trends and you should not draw any specific conclusions from the data. We recommend that any information provided in this report be weighed against other sources and experts on the individual topics covered and\, accordingly, we make no specific claims nor assume any liability from the use of the data contained herein.

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