18 January 2008 18:16 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Fears of a US recession and a slide in the nation's housing sector have put the breaks on market activity in glycol ethers, a distributor said Friday.
Buying interest has been slower than expected in January, as buyers limit their exposure to the paints and coatings feedstock amid lacklustre housing-start data, the distributor said.
The Commerce Department reported a 14.2% decline in new home construction for December compared with November.
Permits filed in December for future home construction fell 8.1%, suggesting that the housing slide has not bottomed out, and it could continue well into 2008.
Some market observers have suggested that a weaker dollar could strengthen export sales, bringing some life to beleaguered domestic markets.
For now, sources say sellers will have to wait and see whether already tight glycol ethers supplies can meet both domestic contractual agreements and greater demand from foreign markets.
Recent US spot prices were 88-92 cents/lb ($1,940-2028/tonne) for ethylene glycol monobutyl ether and 100-104 cents/lb for diethylene glycol monobutyl ether, according to data from global chemical market intelligence service ICIS pricing.Major US glycol ethers suppliers include Dow Chemical, Eastman Chemical, Lyondell, Sasol and Shell Chemical.
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