The final quarter of 2017 saw the rebound in the urea market start to falter and then go into reverse. Some of the major benchmarks finished December 2017 at similar levels to December 2016. The first quarter of 2018 could see some firming in prices but there is caution in the air - US urea imports are set to be lower than usual due to the start-up of new domestic capacity. Chinese urea producers are facing high input costs and this will restrict exports further, but the global market does not need a large volume from China to remain balanced given the arrival of new export capacity in recent years.
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