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Since the early opening of the domestic futures market in early February, the rubber futures have been sharply reduced by about 4%. After that, the main market has continued to fluctuate around 12400-12550, and has been down since then.
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Commodity market: The monitoring of the business society shows that in the early February 2023, the spot market of natural rubber in China followed the trend of futures, with a decline of 4.28% in the three days of the week, from 12610 yuan to 12070 yuan/ton; Subsequently, the trend of spot rubber continued to decline after the decline. On March 7, the market reported 12000 yuan/ton, down 4.84% from 12610 yuan/ton on February 1, basically close to the price of 12070 yuan/ton on the third day. Among them, the highest price in this stage is 12610 yuan/ton on February 1, and the lowest price is 11980 yuan/ton on February 13, with a maximum amplitude of 5%. During the annual trough of global natural rubber supply, the number of new purchases after the inventory consumption of downstream product factories is sparse, and the market transaction is unfavorable, with the market mainly falling.
Supply side: At present, the global natural rubber production is in the seasonal and annual low production period. The foreign production areas have basically stopped cutting, and the domestic production areas, Hainan and Yunnan, are currently in the cutting period. It is said that Yunnan will try to cut rubber as soon as the end of this month. According to the practice, the initial production is also very low, which has limited impact on the market supply pattern. At present, the global supply situation conforms to the global natural rubber production law.
Demand side: operating rate: since the start of construction in early February, domestic rubber products enterprises have mainly consumed the pre-year inventory, and the procurement began to recover slowly in the late part of the month. Over the past two months, the factory operating rate has gradually risen. The data shows that as of March 3, the operating load of all-steel tires of rubber tire enterprises in Shandong Province was 68.98%, 0.44 percentage points higher than that of the same period last year, 8.54 percentage points higher than that of the same period last year; The starting load of semi-steel tires of domestic rubber tire enterprises was 74.15%, 0.19 percentage points higher than that of the same period last year, and 6.01 percentage points higher than that of the same period last year. Heavy truck sales data: In January 2023, China’s heavy truck market sold about 46000 vehicles of various types, – 52% year-on-year and – 15% month-on-month. In February, China’s heavy truck market sold about 68000 vehicles, up nearly 50% month-on-month and 15% year-on-year, ending the continuous decline of the heavy truck market since May 2021. It had been 21 consecutive months of decline, and the market sales volume was extremely severe. This was mainly due to the lower year-on-year base, strong exports and the release of the pent-up demand for car change last year. Although the purchase demand is sparse and the market transaction is poor after the year, the decline of the natural rubber market in the current month fully covers the previous increase, and it has continued to decline until now; However, in view of the increase in the operating rate and the sharp increase in the sales data of heavy trucks in February, the natural rubber market has an important upward support.
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Import and export: In terms of export: in December 2022, China’s total rubber tire export volume was 660000 tons, an increase of 90000 tons on a month-on-month basis and a year-on-year increase of 1.1%; The export value was 11.839 billion yuan, up 12.6% year on year, and the average export price maintained an upward trend. From January to December, China’s rubber tire exports totaled 7.65 million tons, up 4.7% year on year; The export value was 131.418 billion yuan, up 16%. Some analysts said that the expectation of China’s tire export in the later stage was not optimistic. Import: According to the data, Thailand exported 427000 tons of natural rubber and mixed rubber in January, up 2.2% year-on-year and 12.7% month-on-month; Total exports to China were 288000 tons, up 40% year-on-year and 20% month-on-month; Vietnam exported 41000 tons of natural rubber in January, down 37% year on year. In terms of various varieties, the export of standard rubber was 23000 tons, down 41% year on year; Tobacco adhesive decreased by 67% year-on-year; Latex decreased by 25% year on year. The export of natural rubber to China was 13000 tons, up 30% year on year. It can be seen that China’s imports of natural rubber from Thailand and Vietnam have increased significantly.
Inventory side: Since 2023, China’s import of rubber has continued to increase. The main port of Tianjiao has a high social inventory, slow market digestion and poor circulation.
1. According to the recent report of ANRPC, the global natural rubber production is expected to increase by 2.2% to 14.672 million tons in 2023; In 2023, global natural rubber consumption is expected to decrease by 0.1% to 14.738 million tons. The decline in consumption is mainly due to the uncertainty of the global economy in 2023.
2. According to the latest data released by the Association of European Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA), the European passenger car market increased by 11.3% to 760041 vehicles in January 2023, opening a new year in a positive way. However, this is mainly due to the exceptionally mild comparative base in 2022, when the trading volume in January reached the lowest level since the record.
3. At the keynote press conference of the National Development and Reform Office on the 2nd, the Minister of Commerce said that in 2022, a series of policies were introduced for new energy vehicles, with obvious effects. The sales of new energy vehicles had nearly doubled to more than 6.8 million. The penetration rate of new energy vehicles has increased significantly. In 2023, while implementing the policies, we will actively introduce new policies and measures to guide local governments to carry out new energy vehicle activities in the countryside, optimize the use environment of charging, support the consumption of new energy vehicles, improve the construction of charging piles and other supporting facilities, and work with relevant departments to make plans, strengthen efforts, and steadily advance.
Figure 5: Comparison of annual spot market trend of natural rubber in 2021-2023
Future forecast: From a macro perspective, 2023 is still full of challenges, the global economic recovery is uncertain, the economic growth rate is slowing, and the recovery expectation is cautious and optimistic. From the perspective of industry, the favorable global supply during the trough period supported the continuous fluctuation of rubber in more than 12 thousand, but the short-term purchase demand of downstream product enterprises was sparse, resulting in the current weak market of natural rubber and the continuous slight fluctuation of market price. It is expected that the short-term market is still waiting for the sharp recovery of downstream demand and the continuous consumption of high inventory. The lowest supply in the late part of this month coincides with the depletion of factory demand inventory. Maybe the natural rubber market will usher in a big adjustment period. In the future, the natural rubber market is in the traditional rising expectation of the industry. It is in urgent need of a substantial boost in downstream demand. At the same time, it is also necessary to beware of the impact of external factors such as inflation pressure, geopolitical tension, global crude oil market, etc. on the natural rubber market.