Europe spot MMA falls by 21% since May on improved availability

26 August 2011 17:02  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Methyl methacrylate (MMA) spot prices in Europe have fallen by €530–695/tonne ($757–993/tonne) since May because of improved availability and softer demand, buyers and sellers said on Friday.

The spot range is now €1,970–2,040/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe). Prices have been above this level for more than a year because of a lack of material and strong demand. Values are now similar to spot prices last seen in June 2010.

Regarding the high prices, a producer said: “It’s been all about availability. There was virtually nothing available in May. June was tight. If you wanted it [MMA], you had to pay for it.”

Global demand for MMA has been very healthy since early 2010, largely buoyed by the robust offtake in the downstream polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) industry, in which consumer demand for flat-screen TVs with liquid crystal displays (LCDs), light-emitting diode (LED) and plasma screen technologies has been exerting upwards supply pressure on MMA.

“The main drivers were poor supply and strong demand, and we have gone from extreme tightness to a balanced market,” the producer said. “The spot price is now getting to where it should be in a balanced market.”

MMA spot prices in Europe have fallen by 21–25% since May.

“There has been a big change in the spot prices and it’s linked to MMA availability,” a trader said.

“The spot prices have been so far away from contract, pulling contract prices up, and now spot is coming down,” the trader added.

Third-quarter contract levels are at €1,990–2,130/tonne FD NWE.

Spot volumes were sold in the past few days at €1,970–2,040/tonne FD NWE for September delivery.

Asked if prices are now likely to stabilise, a buyer said: “Spot will come down more based on offers we had this week for large quantities.” However, the buyer did not disclose the value of the spot offer.

“People are more nervous about the future. There are signs of destocking,” a seller said.

“Everyone in the supply chain, from feedstocks to DIY shops, is waiting because of market uncertainty,” the trader added. “I don’t think it’s the bottom, nobody can say that. We do not know.”

($1 = €0.70)

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By: Helena Strathearn
+44 208 652 3214



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