Europe March acrylic acid, esters up on feedstock, demand

14 March 2012 23:59  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--March acrylic acid (AA) and acrylate esters prices have been assessed up by €70-90/tonne ($92-118/tonne), as upward pressure from higher feedstock propylene costs as well as improved demand levels push the market higher, sources said on Wednesday.

March AA prices have been assessed at €1,890-1,940/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe), up by €70-90/tonne from the previous month.

Methyl acrylate (Methyl-A) prices were assessed at €1,850–1,910/tonne FD NWE, an increase of €70/tonne from February.

Ethyl acrylate (Ethyl-A) prices were assessed at €1,900-1,950/tonne, an increase of €80/tonne from the previous month.

Butyl acrylate (Butyl-A) prices were assessed at €1,870-1,990/tonne, up by €70/tonne from February, while 2-ethylhexyl acrylate (2-EHA) numbers were assessed at €2,090-2,230/tonne, an increase of €80-90/tonne.

Players largely believe that feedstock costs drove price discussions this month as opposed to supply/demand dynamics, with sellers adamant that they had to recoup some of the margins lost so far in 2012.

“The news referring to the pressure from the feedstocks can be found in every corner of the market,” said a buyer on Wednesday.

Since January, the European propylene contract has risen by €200/tonne on the back of stronger naphtha prices and a squeeze on cracker margins.

However, the acrylates sector has struggled to keep pace with these monthly increases because of uncertain end-use demand, aggressively priced spot material from Asia and Russia, and a generally bearish sentiment given the wider economic malaise.

“There has been a realisation that producers need to raise prices in line with raw materials,” said one seller.

Demand is also steadily improving, although some players still feel that buying interest peaked in February. However, one major supplier countered this by arguing this has been an issue of perception, as the onset of the coatings season buoyed expectations this month.

Nevertheless, demand for March is still seen as healthy, and sources said that it expected to keep gaining ground as and when the demand from the coatings sector takes off later in the second quarter.

Ongoing upstream increases predicted for next month will continue to apply upward pressure on the acrylates sector, as well as stronger prices for acrylates in both Asia as well as the US.

One seller added that it has a planned maintenance shutdown scheduled for mid-April, which will potentially restrict AA availability as well as that of some ester grades.

“There is also talk of delayed shipments [into Europe] and some technical problems on 2-EHA,” said the seller, “so we could see some real supply issues soon.”

($1 = €0.76)

Follow Truong Mellor on Twitter for daily tweets on the acrylates markets

By: Truong Mellor
+44 208 652 3214

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