FocusHigh US etac prices prompt boost in imports

06 September 2012 19:24  [Source: ICIS news]

By Lane Kelley

HOUSTON (ICIS)--A jump in US ethyl acetate (etac) prices this week accentuated the growing gap between American and European values in the niche chemical.

US etac contract and spot prices rose by 5 cents/lb ($110/tonne, €87/tonne) as September began, and distributor prices inched up 1 cent/lb on continued raw material increases, buyers and sellers said.

The hike left a 24 cent/lb gap in spot prices between the US and Europe, with US spot at 76-80 cents/lb and the European range at 53-54.79 cents/lb, according to ICIS.

Etac is used primarily for inks and coatings and is an ingredient in nail polish. US nail polish sales rose 68% in the first six months this year, according to the NPD Group, a market research firm in New York.

A seller said the prices between the two regions have been fairly wide for at least 12-18 months, but the decline in the European economy this year has widened the gap.

“You don’t have as many players in the US,” the seller noted. “The European market is larger, there are more producers there. And the weaker market conditions in Europe have taken prices lower.”

In April, US etac distributor prices fell on competition from imported material, said to be from INEOS in the UK.

But the jump in US prices this week stemmed largely from feedstock increases in industrial ethanol, ethylene and acetic acid, sources said.

Etac suppliers in the US include Celanese, Eastman and Sasol.

Buyers and sellers said the price gap between the two regions is clearly explainable from trade data. So far this year, etac imports have more than doubled the size of exports, according to data from the US International Trade Commission.

Imports rose 37% in the first six months, to 25,986 tonnes, compared with 19,017 tonnes in the same period of 2011.

The US, like Europe, is a net importer of etac. US exports this year through June totalled 12,900 tonnes, leaving a trade deficit of 13,086 tonnes.

A large buyer noted that much of the gap comes from Celanese’s Cangrejera etac plant in Mexico. Mexico is the largest source of US etac imports, shipping 13,015 tonnes to the US in the first six months this year, according to the trade data.

A producer said that, taking the Mexican exports to the US into account, the American etac supply now is fairly balanced

($1 = €0.790)


By: Lane Kelley
+1 713 525 2653



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