Europe Sept caprolactam up €40/tonne on benzene, tight supply

29 September 2010 23:59  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--The September caprolactam contract price has increased by an average of €40/tonne ($30/tonne) from August on the back of firmer benzene and ongoing tight supply, producers and consumers said on Wednesday.

The September pre-discounted caprolactam contract price settled at €2,220-2,256/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe), up €40/tonne from August.

“We have closed our contacts and an increase of €40/tonne represents a good average. I wouldn’t say the market is tight but it’s balanced,” said a buyer for the fibre markets.

A second, larger European buyer for the textiles sector confirmed that it paid €40/tonne more for its September volumes.

“September was a strange month, with suppliers saying that it was impossible to find caprolactam and everybody fighting for volume. But now this is not a problem and we’ve got enough to cover our consumption,” said the buyer.

All European producers said the market was tight, with one describing it as “very tight”.

“Some big buyers have healthy orders and the outlook for October and November is strong. Textiles and carpets are doing well and it’s the high season from the engineering plastics markets,” one producer said.

He also pointed out that “a big account” had placed an order as far ahead as November, which was a firm indication that the market would remain strong for much of the fourth quarter.

Developments in upstream benzene pricing largely set the tone of caprolactam contract negotiations. But owing to tightness in the market for much of 2010, strong demand from Asia and high demand for nylon 6, European producers have been seeking more than benzene increments in monthly contract negotiations or refusing to drop their prices when the benzene contact has fallen.

The September benzene contract price increased by €35/tonne to €703/tonne FOB (free on board) NWE (northwest Europe).

The August contract price dropped by €12/tonne to €668/tonne FOB NWE, but August caprolactam contracts rolled over based on strong demand and tight availability.

For September contracts, market sources said that one of the major European producers had been seeking increases of up to €100/tonne in an attempt to bridge the gap between the value of caprolactam in Europe versus Asia.

This week in Asia, caprolactam spot prices were steady in the key Chinese market at $2,590-2,610/tonne CFR China, largely due to Chinese holidays.

($1 = €0.74)

For more on caprolactam  visit ICIS chemical intelligence
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By: Julia Meehan
+44 20 8652 3214

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