Demand generally weakened in Asia, which was typical market behavior given the approach of the year-end holidays and the usual pressure on both buyers and sellers to lower inventories and avoid tax implications. This condition led to downward price adjustments, as suppliers made a last-minute effort to place additional volumes, but many buyers appeared reluctant to acquire cargoes as they preferred to use up existing stocks and wait for further downward price adjustments.
In China, uncertainties related to the lifting of zero-COVID-related restrictions led to a fairly chaotic response, both from the general population, as well as local authorities. While infections rose, local authorities in several large cities urged employees to go to work despite being infected. This was thought to be prompted by the need to achieve an economic recovery. For three years, the government’s strict zero-COVID policies has kept COVID infections and deaths at relatively low levels in China, CNN.com reported, but they have also wreaked havoc on the economy. But the sudden policy shift was also causing a strain on the country’s health system and an increase in COVID-related deaths. “As fears spread over the looming wave of cases, subway systems and streets have emptied in recent weeks, which is unusual for this time of the year,” the CNN.com article added.