Chemical market trends: May olefins contracts fall in Europe. US

07 May 2012 00:00  [Source: ICB]

European ethylene contracts have dropped by €20/tonne to €1,325/tonne in May to reflect soft demand but also keeping in mind upstream volatility. US April contracts have been agreed at 55.25 cents/lb ($1,218/tonne), a slip of 0.50 cents/lb fom March when production costs fell following a 7% drop in ethane feedstock prices. The settlement is in sharp contrast to spot prices, which surged to a record of 76.125 cents/lb in April. Although spot levels have softened in recent weeks, material for May delivery still has a premium of more than 10 cents/lb compared with the April contract.

May propylene contracts in Europe have also fallen, by €15/tonne to €1,230/tonne. Some buyers said decreases of €20-30/tonne would have been more realistic. Producers, however, pointed to heightened upstream volatility and poor cracker margins in recent months.

US May benzene contracts have settled at $4.21/gal ($1,260/tonne), up by 9 cents/gal. Market participants cited tight inventory levels, which had pushed spot prices above $4.20/gal in mid-April. Japanese producer JX Nippon Oil & Energy settled the benzene Asian Contract Price (ACP) for May at $1,195/tonne, $5/tonne higher.

The May paraxylene (PX) ACP has been agreed by all four major Asian producers at $1,550/tonne, $35/tonne lower than April, as buyers put up strong resistance to higher prices.

The US May methanol contract has moved higher following Canadian producer Methanex's posting at 138 cents/gal, the highest monthly price this year. US-based Southern Chemical posted 133/cents/gal, a rollover from April.

The US Tampa ammonia contract for May shipments has been agreed at $545/tonne, up by $75/tonne, because of higher global prices in the past four weeks.

As this is a double issue the chemical prices will be published on May 21, 2012.

By: Elaine Burridge
+44 20 8652 3214

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