Global economy will sustain growth - Celanese

05 February 2008 20:16  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US acetyls producer Celanese expects strong economic growth in Asia, while Europe should drop back to historic levels, the company's chief executive said on Tuesday.

"We continue to see good demand in our businesses as our customers tell us that they do not see significant changes in their outlooks," said David Weidman, chief executive.

Celanese does not expect substantial deterioration in the US economy - although the nation's housing and automobile markets will remain sluggish in the first half of the year, he said.

The European economy will slow down to historic growth rates, while Asia - especially China - should continue growing quickly, Weidman said.

As such, the company expects that sales volumes for acetyl intermediates to increase, as the company's complex in Nanjing, China, continues to grow, he said.

Prices for acetic acid should drop to more historic levels, Weidman said. Already, spot prices in Asia have dropped to $650/tonne. Acetic acid spot prices in northeast Asia peaked at $750-780/tonne CFR during June 2007, according to global chemical market intelligence service ICIS pricing.

Asian spot prices for acetic acid could drop to $600/tonne or lower by the end of the year, he said.

Falling methanol prices should allow Celanese to sustain profitability, if not increase it, Weidman said.

In the fourth quarter, all of Celanese's acetic acid plants were operating at full rates to accommodate growing demand and to catch up from outages, Weidman said.

So far, first quarter rates for the global acetic acid industry have been 90-95%, he said.

Rates have fallen, in part, because many Chinese plants are having problems with reliability, he said. For example, some plants are unable to secure supplies of natural gas.


By: Al Greenwood
+1 713 525 2645



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