US October acrylates contracts weaken on soft market conditions

13 October 2011 18:49  [Source: ICIS news]

US acrylates contracts are going downHOUSTON (ICIS)--US acrylic acid and acrylate esters October contract prices are weakening on soft demand and plentiful supply, sources said on Thursday.

Declines were heard in the range of 3-5 cents/lb ($66-110/tonne, €48-79/tonne) on the high end of most products, but one buyer said it had received offers of 10-15 cents/lb lower for two of the esters than it had in September.

“Supply is plentiful, and we are getting very attractive price offers,” a buyer said. “Unfortunately we don't need material because we are slow and reducing inventories prior to year end.”

September glacial acrylic acid (GAA) contracts are in the range of $1.41-1.46/lb, as assessed by ICIS.

Producers did not confirm talk of the large decreases, but one said existing margins were unsustainable, given sharply weaker propylene pricing for October.

US propylene contract prices for October settled down by 14 cents/lb from September, primarily because of weakening demand.

The settlement brought the chemical-grade propylene (CGP) contract down to 62.50 cents/lb, and the polymer-grade propylene (PGP) contract down to 64 cents/lb.

A recent build-up of refinery-grade propylene (RGP) inventories also was cited as a factor in the lower price settlements. And US propylene inventories rose by 5% in the last week of September despite slightly lower refinery operating rates, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Feedstock oxo-alcohols n-butanol (NBA) and 2-ethylhexanol (2-EH) also continued to be sluggish, with ample supply. Producers hoping for rollovers for October are likely to see weaker pricing based on propylene’s sharp decline, sources said.

Buying interest was described as flat to 3-4% higher from 2010, with superabsorbent polymer (SAP) demand steady to strong, and adhesives slow to steady. Coatings remained the weakest segment amid dismal housing numbers.

US pending home sales fell in August from July, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said, citing ongoing tight lending policies among mortgage bankers and persistent consumer uncertainty.

Major producers of acrylates in the US include Arkema, Dow Chemical and BASF.

($1 = €0.72)

For more on acrylates, visit ICIS Chemical Intelligence
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