The base oils market in Asia has yet to show definitive trends, as activity has not changed significantly since the beginning of the year, and fundamentals appeared to be in flux. Base oil prices were mixed, with some grades moving down and others holding at current levels or edging up, depending on supply and demand factors. Crude oil and feedstock prices were up one day and down the next, underscoring the uncertainties.
There were expectations that business would remain somewhat lackluster until after the Lunar New Year holidays, when many buyers tend to return to the market to fill depleted inventories. The economic slowdown in China brought about by surging COVID infections has stifled prospects for a strong demand pickup ahead of the holidays, and concerns about a global recession were still affecting fuel and lubricant consumption in other Asian nations as well. According to media reports, China’s gross domestic product grew by 3% in 2022, down from an 8.1% rate in 2021 and below the government target of 5.5%. Car sales in China were down in December compared to the same month the previous year, reflecting downcast consumer sentiment.
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