Europe PET looking for April price direction, March up €100/t

24 March 2011 18:03  [Source: ICIS news]

VALENCIA, Spain (ICIS)--The European polyethylene terephthalate (PET) market is struggling to decipher a price direction for April and is waiting for clarification upstream, sources said on Thursday.

“Regarding April prices we are waiting to see what happens. I can’t tell my customers whether the price will increase, decrease or roll over,” a producer said.

It added that it had expected a reduction in March but the price went up by around €100/tonne ($141/tonne) to €1,570-1,590/tonne FD (free delivered) Europe.

Most other buyers and sellers agreed that freely negotiated March prices had indeed moved up by an average of €100/tonne to around €1,600/tonne.

“Sentiment for Asia is the key for future price trends,” a customer commented.

It added that the disaster in Japan had created confusion regarding upstream paraxylene (PX) and purified terephthalic acid (PTA) pricing.

“PX [in Asia] surged last week and now it is clear that it is rolling over or on a downward trend,” the customer said.

Other players were counting on April PET increases of around €10-20/tonne ($14-28/tonne). This was based on their assumptions of where feedstocks PX and monoethylene glycol (MEG) were likely to land in April.

Ideas regarding MEG included decreases of €20-50/tonne because of a softer Asian market, alongside possible increases that would reflect tightness and the upcoming peak season for downstream PET.

March MEG was settled at €1,130/tonne FD NWE (northwest Europe), up €60/tonne.

“We don’t want to overheat the [PET] market. The weaker dollar has had a $30/tonne impact on raw materials and after the March increases I get the sense customers are feeling sore,” a second PET producer said.

The PET market was still tight because of upstream shortages. The situation was changing as production issues were resolved while new and idled capacity was due on-stream.

Due to improved PET availability, “I don’t think we will have a big increase on the [April] PET price,” according to the customer.

A second buyer agreed that prices were likely to remain stable in April and May before falling in June.

“Unless something unexpected happens [European PET] prices can’t go up because then [imports from Asia] would be more competitive,” it said.

While a seller said it was hoping for a €10-20/tonne increase which may result in a rollover, another customer said. “Honestly, I have no clue.”

PET prices have been increasing since the end of August 2010 when the average was €1,075/tonne FD (free delivered) Europe.   

($1 = €0.71)

For more on PET, PTA, PX visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: Caroline Murray
44208 652 3214

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