Americas chemical industry outlook for 2012

09 January 2012 16:00  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The following OUTLOOK '12 stories were published by ICIS from Friday 23 December 2011 to Friday 6 January 2012. Please click on the headlines to read the full versions.

OUTLOOK '12: Growing demand, supply weigh on US gasoline
The stronger US economy and geopolitical fears could push 2012 gasoline above $4/gal, although any pressure pushing up prices could be offset by fuel-efficiency standards, higher supplies and releases from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

OUTLOOK '12: North American sulphur supply likely to increase
Increased production amid stable demand in the North American sulphur market is unlikely to dampen prices in 2012 because of a global market deficit. Indications are that the stable demand that has characterised North America in 2011 will continue into 2012 in the absence of any significant economic downturn.

OUTLOOK ’12: Sulphuric acid market to remain stable in 2012
The sulphuric acid industry had a good balance of supply and demand for much of 2011, and sources say the coming year should be no different. It will all depend on continued stable pricing in related markets, mainly phosphate fertilizers and base metals.

OUTLOOK '12: Sorbitol prices expected to jump 12%
US sorbitol prices are expected to increase by about 12% in 2012 as higher feedstock corn prices and increased demand from the food sector push market rates higher. Annual sorbitol contracts, typically settled by buyers and sellers in the US during November and December, are forecast to increase by about 12% for liquid material, while lesser-used crystal sorbitol prices are expected to increase by about 5%, industry sources said.

OUTLOOK '12: Bio-based chemicals to attract investment
Financings, grants, initial public offerings (IPOs), partnerships and acquisitions have dotted the renewable chemicals landscape in 2011 – much more so than in 2010. Despite investor fatigue creeping into 2012, attributed to overall economic uncertainties, industry analysts remain optimistic about the sector’s financing future.

OUTLOOK '12: Sales of new cars, light trucks seen to improve
New-car and light-truck sales in 2012 are expected to improve by about 5% as the industry continues to recover from the 2008 recession. November was the best month for the car industry in 2011 in terms of vehicles sold, with an increase of 14% year on year, and moved the number of cars and light trucks sold to more than 11.5m for the year. This year-to-date figure is an improvement of 10% over the same period in 2010.

INSIDE VIEW ’12: America at energy crossroads – NPRA
As we look ahead to 2012, we see America at the crossroads facing two paths to very different energy futures – a choice between the best of times and the worst. Results of the November 2012 elections for the presidency and Congress will play a key role in determining which path the nation will take in the years ahead.

OUTLOOK ’12: New uses make refined glycerine oleochem leader
Emerging new uses for refined glycerine will put the oleochemcial co-product at the forefront of the sector. Refined glycerine is a co-product in the manufacture of oleochemicals such as fatty acids and fatty alcohols, as well as from the transesterification process of making biodiesel - a methyl ester.

OUTLOOK '12: US natural gas supply keeps Henry Hub price down
The so-called shoulder months, when inventories typically build up before peak demand periods, extended well past market expectations during the autumn of 2011, setting up the possibility for a hefty carryover of storage by the spring of 2012. This means falling prices, particularly as the US natural gas futures price has tumbled nearly 12% from mid-October to mid-December.

OUTLOOK '12: US Q1 EG, MPG to stabilise after Q4 price drops
US ethylene glycol (EG) and monopropylene glycol (MPG) values will stabilise in the first quarter after cheaper feedstock and weaker demand caused prices to fall in the fourth quarter, buyers and distributors said.

OUTLOOK '12: Latin American growth threatened by European woes
Growth in Latin America is likely to outpace the developed world in 2012, although Europe's continuing sovereign debt crisis will put pressure on the region's economy. Brazil's economy, the largest in Latin America and the second largest in the western hemisphere, stalled in the third quarter, recording no growth, according to government statistics.

OUTLOOK ’12: Expectations fall for the US economy
Despite some clear if modest US economic gains in 2011, the US Federal Reserve Bank has lowered its forecasts for the nation’s economy for 2012–2014.

OUTLOOK ’12: US Chem Safety Board may finish BP oil spill probe
Rafael Moure-Eraso, the chairman of the CSB, said the investigation into the Deepwater Horizon disaster has run into some obstacles. “The [US Department of Justice] has been working with us to enforce the subpoenas," he said.

OUTLOOK '12: China to continue driving US methanol market
The methanol outlook for the US and the rest of the world in 2012 and beyond will continue to be driven by China, market experts said at a recent conference.

OUTLOOK '12: Americas PET sentiment to firm in first quarter
North and South American polyethylene terephthalate (PET) prices are expected to firm through the first quarter of 2012, following a decline in resin and feedstock prices in the latter part of 2011, sources said.

OUTLOOK ’12: US base oils look to lighter grades and more re-refining
The US base oils market will be looking toward lighter grades and more re-refining in 2012. While US production remains dominated by Group I base oil stocks, increasing demand for lighter viscosity grades are pushing up the need for Group II, II+ and III base oils.

OUTLOOK ’12: US elections could bring major industry changes
The November 2012 national elections could present a major turning point in US political life and perhaps bring changes in policies that many in the nation's energy, refining and chemicals industries consider hostile to their interests.

OUTLOOK ‘12: Canada chems see modest sales growth amid challenges
Canada’s chemical industry expects sales to rise by only 2% year on year to Canadian dollar (C$) 26.0bn ($25.5bn) in 2012 amid recession fears in Europe and challenges from feedstocks, currencies and other issues.

OUTLOOK ’12: Rail reform by US Congress seen as unlikely
US chemical manufacturers and other industries have long sought legislative relief for what they contend is an unfair railway price-setting authority that for practical reasons could not easily be appealed or challenged.

OUTLOOK '12: PS demand expected to be steady in Latin America
Latin American polystyrene (PS) markets are expected to have a steady performance in 2012, with stable production capacity and lower feedstock costs.

OUTLOOK '12: Latin American PP supply to tighten
Latin American nations will not add polypropylene (PP) capacity in 2012, suggesting that PP supply will tighten in the region, which may require more imports to cover the expected increase in demand.

OUTLOOK '12: US chlor-alkali market future rests on housing starts
Buyers and sellers alike expect the chlorine derivatives and caustic soda markets to remain in the doldrums at least in the early part of the year. But many are projecting increased activity by the spring, at the earliest, and certainly by the second quarter.

OUTLOOK '12: Regional economies to impact Latin America PE demand
The status of local economies in Latin America is expected to be the largest factor in polyethylene (PE) demand in the region in 2012. Although the eurozone crisis is having some impact on Latin America, demand for PE will likely respond more to regional and domestic issues.

OUTLOOK '12: Feedstock, supply among challenges for US SBR in 2012
The US styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) market will face several challenges in 2012, including volatile feedstock costs, a tightening of supply and weak global economies.

INSIDE VIEW '12: NACD continues strong advocacy for distributors
NACD member companies will continue to provide important links within the chemical supply chain, working with their industry partners to ensure safe and reliable chemical distribution. Our hope is that the industry will do more business with less uncertainty.

OUTLOOK ’12: Americas biodiesel has north hopeful, south rolling on
The North American biodiesel industry is maintaining a hopeful outlook for 2012 because of mandates by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calling for increasing production and use of renewable fuels.

OUTLOOK '12: End of tax credit, tariff, to challenge US ethanol
With the expiration of the VEETC, US ethanol market sentiment has suggested there will be less incentive to blend ethanol. Some market participants have even said the loss of the VEETC could lead to a discount for consumers at the pump, and even some consolidation in the US ethanol market.

OUTLOOK ’12: US phenol-acetone market focusing on Sunoco cumene
The biggest concern for the US phenol-acetone market in 2012 is the possible shutdown of Sunoco’s cumene unit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

INSIDE VIEW '12: ACC focuses on chem management, energy, security
In 2011 the American Chemistry Council (ACC) achieved notable victories on behalf of our members. Despite these successes, many issues stagnated due to difficult political and economic dynamics in Washington. We expect much of the same in 2012, but ACC will focus on building toward future success on the key issues facing our industry including chemical management, energy and chemical security.  

OUTLOOK ’12: Battered US housing market may stage recovery
US new home construction finally hit bottom in 2011 and is now poised to make a long, slow recovery beginning in 2012 – at least that is what people in the housing industry are hoping.

OUTLOOK '12: Global economy clouds outlook for N America styrene
The global economic uncertainty that has developed in 2011 is causing mixed outlooks from North American styrene players. Producers are staying mostly optimistic, while some market participants are taking a cautious approach to 2012. Either way, the eurozone debt crisis and the recent lack of confidence in the US economy is affecting styrene producers' and consumers' forecasts for the next 12 months.

OUTLOOK '12: N American PE and PP suppliers expect margin bump
Tighter supply and improving global demand are expected to help boost profit margins in the polyolefins sector in the coming year, sources said.

OUTLOOK ‘12: Participants expect stronger Q1 for US benzene
Most US benzene market participants do not expect to see a drop in demand for the first quarter of 2012 because year-end destocking will be over.

OUTLOOK ’12: Turnarounds, crude oil may fuel US olefins prices
A series of planned cracker shutdowns in the first half of 2012, combined with potentially higher energy prices, are likely to lend support to US olefins prices, even though the monomer was trending down at the end of the year.

INSIDE VIEW ’12: SOCMA to shift focus from advocate to educate
It is important for SOCMA members, who are small and mid-sized chemical companies, to spend this downtime educating members of Congress about the importance of the specialty chemical industry to the economy and job growth.

OUTLOOK: US 2012 ammonia demand to rise on larger corn crop
Strong agricultural fundamentals are expected to drive robust demand for ammonia in 2012. The US market for ammonia used for agricultural and industrial purposes is projected to reach about 21m tonnes in 2012, up from about 20.5m tonnes in 2011, according to ICIS.

OUTLOOK ’12: US construction to slightly strengthen in 2012
The US construction industry should slightly strengthen in 2012, bolstered by increasing activity in multi-family and oil and gas construction, according to industry observers.

OUTLOOK '12: Chem shipping profits may rise on tighter capacity
Chemical shipping profits could increase next year because of sharp cuts in capacity, analysts said. During 2009-10, there was a glut of chemical transporters. While there could still be too many vessels on the water, they are most likely not carrying chemicals.

OUTLOOK: Infrastructure, price advantage keeps US ethane in demand
Ethane will remain in high demand from the chemical sector as infrastructure companies continue to plan and break ground on shale projects for bringing the feedstock and natural gas to the market.

By: Staff Reporter
+44 20 8652 3214

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