OREANDA-NEWS. February 27, 2012. The Chinese government's expansionary fiscal policy along with the first signs of stabilizing petrochemical and plastic prices in China will lead to a better performance of the Chinese petrochemical sector in 2012 compared with 2011, Barclays Capital said in a research note.

A healthier petrochemical sector would propel a stronger performance of petrochemical feedstock naphtha in Asia in 2012, and would also be positive for gasoline. Naphtha plays a very important role, required for blending into finished gasoline.

"In 2011, a weakening petrochemical sector backed off a significant amount of naphtha, which weakened the gasoline balance by blending into it," the note said, adding that with the demand for naphtha underlined by the health of the Asian petrochemical sector, the cost of production of the gasoline chain was now closely tied with petrochemicals.

The note added that gasoline supplies were "comfortable" in 2011 due to the modification in the average output mix of those refineries endowed with some flexibility.

According to Platts data, naphtha prices were assessed at USD 891/mt CFR Japan on January 4, 2011, reaching a high of USD 1092.25/mt on April 29, 2011 before plummeting to USD 912.25/mt on December 30, driven by a laggard petrochemical demand in second half of the year.