ENERGY & UTILITIES(ENERG)/PETROCHEMICALS & CHEMICALS(PETRO)：RIDING THE CREST OF HIGHER OIL PRICES
Refining margins likely to stay high amid tighter supply
Refining margins are likely to stay high at the US$7/barrel level in 2018 on tightersupply after global incremental oil demand is poised to outpace new refining capacityadditions and China’s exports of refined products are expected to grow at a modestpace due to the Chinese government’s efforts to crack down on pollution and offloadexcess output.
Petrochemical spreads seen lower but still high compared to 4-year historicalaverages
Even though the big picture for petrochemical spreads looks weak on growing supplyin 2018, the figures are likely to stay high compared to their 4-year historical averages.Aromatics margins are expected to be softer than the level seen in 2017 amid risingsupply following the startup of new aromatics plants in Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. PXnaphthaspreads are likely to stay level with the average level of 2017 driven bycontinued strong demand from the downstream PTA sector in China and India whileBZ-naphtha spreads may be dragged by a high base effect from 2017 when spreadsreceived a boost from exceptionally high levels of downstream SM prices. On the otherhand, olefins margins tend to hold steady as PE prices are expected to remain strongat around US$1,200/ton on expectations that the PE market will be in balance asgrowing US exports of PE should be offset by rising demand from Asia, notably Chinadue to the Chinese government’s ban on waste plastic imports to curb domestic plasticrecycling.
‘NEUTRAL’ position in energy space, ‘OVERWEIGHT’ stance on petrochemicals
The rosier-than-expected earnings outlook lifted by higher product prices in the wake ofrising oil prices gives us an excuse to make sector-wide target price upgrades for bothenergy and petrochemical sectors. We hold a ‘NEUTRAL’ position in the energy spaceand reiterate an ‘OVERWEIGHT’ stance on the petrochemical sector. We also highlightPTT and PTTGC as our top picks in the energy and petrochemical sectors respectivelyas both now offer the highest upside among others.
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