KUALA LUMPUR (Jan. 4, 2012)—Weak demand is keeping natural rubber markets quiet to the point of dormancy, according to the January 2012 issue of Natural Rubber Trends & Statistics, the monthly statistical report from the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries.
Prospects for a global economic recovery look remote in the first quarter of 2012, according to the ANRPC. Prices for popular NR grades reflect that market pessimism, staying since mid-November in the range of $3.30 to $3.60 per kilogram, it said.
“Slackness in demand coupled with a high level of stock appears to have affected sentiments in the NR market,” it said.
On the bright side, the ANRPC revised its annual NR supply growth figure for 2011 to 6.4 percent, based on preliminary estimates from member nations as of Dec. 19. In its December 2011 report, the association projected a growth rate of only 5.6 percent for 2011. Total NR production for the year, according to the January report, is 10.1 million metric tons.
The ANRPC also revised its exports estimate upward for the year, up 2.4 percent to 7.66 million tons. Its previous estimate for 2011 export growth was only 1.3 percent. However, both figures are far below the 10.4-percent increase achieved in 2010, the association said.
NR imports to ANRPC nations inched up 0.2 percent to 3.81 million tons in 2011, the association said. Previously the ANRPC projected a 1-percent drop because of lower import demand from China.
Total demand for NR was sluggish in 2011, increasing only 1 percent to 6.11 million tons, the ANRPC said. Demand in 2010, by contrast, grew 5.6 percent, it said. The association predicted a 3-percent growth rate for demand in 2012.