US domestic epoxy resins market faces competing pressures

02 October 2012 17:48  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US October domestic epoxy resins contract price is facing competing pressures and has not taken a clear direction, sources said on Tuesday.

While prices for material shipped in September were assessed by ICIS at $1.38-1.45/lb ($3,042-3,197/tonne, €2,373-2,494/tonne) DEL (delivered) in bulk, there is not a clear price range for material shipped in October.

“I have heard contradictory reports for October prices,” a buyer said. “I have one deal that’s where most of the market is, and one that’s much cheaper.”

Buyers have argued that demand for epoxy resins is falling, mostly because of cooler weather cutting into the outdoor coatings market.

Additionally, buyers have said that inventory controls are beginning to crop up, cutting into downstream orders and sales.

“Demand is soft,” a buyer said. “If it were balanced with supply we’d be seeing prices in the high $1.40s or low $1.50s.”

Producers are countering that feedstock prices and lower volumes of less-expensive Asian material are enough for prices to rise in October.

“The Asians have started to slow down,” a producer said. “There’s not as much material coming into the US.”

The producer added that epoxy resins prices in Europe are also moving higher, which is driving material to that region and away from the US.

However, one buyer said the flow of material into Europe is being overplayed.

“The Asian producers will take dollars over euros every time,” the buyer said. “They can’t trust the euro.”

The feedstock situation remains a big concern for producers, as upstream benzene contracts gained 20 cents/gal in October.

“We are facing big pressure from benzene,” the producer said. “And we’re expecting higher costs from propylene as well.”

Major US epoxy resins producers include Dow Chemical, Huntsman and Momentive Specialty Chemicals.

($1 = €0.78)

By: John Dietrich

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