US C3 poised for new jump; 5 ct/lb hike sought for March

23 February 2010 21:26  [Source: ICIS news]

Propylene poised to jumpHOUSTON (ICIS news)--A US propylene producer nominated an increase of 5 cents/lb ($110/tonne, €80/tonne) for March, market sources said on Tuesday, pointing to yet another likely jump for the monthly contract.

US polymer-grade propylene (PGP) contracts for February settled at 63.50 cents/lb, up by 6.50 cents from January, while chemical-grade propylene (CGP) settled up 6.50 cents at 62.00 cents/lb, according to global chemical market intelligence service ICIS pricing.

The proposed increase for March would extend an uptrend that began in November, when propylene contracts started to climb on the back of firm demand and tight supply.

Propylene spot prices have climbed steadily in recent weeks and will likely support higher contract prices next month.

Refinery-grade propylene (RGP), the main feedstock for higher-purity US propylene, traded last week at 54.00-54.50 cents/lb, up from 51.50 cents/lb four weeks earlier.

Spot PGP for April traded on Monday at 67.00 cents/lb, up from March deals done at 63.50 and 66.00 cents/lb last week, sources said.

Buyers wanted propylene to go down but fundamentals are still net short, a plastics trader noted.

According to the source, monomer production from steam crackers remained limited while derivative export demand continued to be strong.

The acrylonitrile (ACN), alcohol derivates and propylene oxide (PO) markets can all support higher feedstock prices at this time, the trader said.

US prices of ACN and alcohol derivatives have increased due to firm demand from the export market, while curtailed PO supply is driving that market up.

US propylene contracts will likely settle in the first week of March. At least two more US producers are expected to step out with their nominations in the coming days.

Chevron Phillips Chemical, Enterprise Products, ExxonMobil, LyondellBasell and Shell Chemical are among the major US producers of PGP and CGP.

Dow Chemical, INEOS, Ascend Performance Materials and Total are among the main buyers.

($1 = €0.73)

For more on propylene, visit ICIS chemical intelligence
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