Europe Q3 MMA down on lower feedstock costs, softer demand

20 July 2012 23:59  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Third-quarter European methyl methacrylate (MMA) prices have fallen from the previous quarter because of reduced feedstock costs and softer demand, buyers and sellers said on Friday.

The range has been assessed at €1,710-1,760/tonne ($2,111-2,173/tonne) on a free delivered (FD) northwest Europe (NWE) basis.

Contracts for the quarter have largely decreased by €120-140/tonne, with some agreements falling by €100/tonne and others by €150/tonne, depending on starting point.

The majority of contracts have now been concluded, although some negotiations will continue next week.

MMA prices came down this quarter, following the €136/tonne decrease in the July feedstock acetone contract, and amid subdued demand. Second-quarter demand was slower than usual, and third-quarter offtake has tapered off as the European summer holiday season approaches.

While the market should have been enjoying peak season demand, buying interest from the coatings sector has been patchy, whereas offtake from the polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) industry has been weak. End use markets have been impacted by macroeconomic concerns, and third-quarter European PMMA contracts are set to decrease.

Producers are keeping a close eye on the cost of raw materials. Despite the triple-digit decrease in the July contract, acetone prices are at a high level, and feedstocks methanol and ammonia are also still high, with methanol remaining at a four-year high this quarter.

The July monthly MMA contract has decreased by €70-80/tonne to €1,750-1,780/tonne FD NWE.

Talk has now turned to the prospect of the August feedstock propylene contract price increasing on firm naphtha and crude prices. Producers are keen to preserve margins in the balanced MMA market. “If acetone goes up and the other raw materials remain at a high level, it will be an issue for the MMA market,” one producer said.

The spot market has softened slightly from last week’s level to €1,640-1,680/tonne FD NWE. Two truckloads of MMA were sold for delivery in the second half of August at €1,600/tonne FD NWE, but sources said most prices remained above this level this week.

MMA is an organic compound. This colourless liquid is a monomer produced on a large scale for the production of PMMA.

($1 = €0.81)

By: Helena Strathearn
+44 208 652 3214

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