22 November 2012 20:24 [Source: ICB]
European November contract prices for acrylic acid (AA) and acrylate esters have been assessed at a rollover and with increases, despite a €20/tonne ($25/tonne) decrease for feedstock propylene this month, sources say.
Prices increased or rolled over as producers focused on regaining margins lost this year, on high feedstock propylene costs. Following the explosion at Japanese company Nippon Shokubai's Himeji facility in September, which resulted in the company's AA and super absorbent polymer (SAP) facilities shutting down, there is some expectation that first-quarter supply will tighten, and prices will rise.
AA AVAILABILITY NERVES
"There is an increasing nervousness about availability of AA," one producer said. "It goes shorter quicker than acrylates. We agreed increases of €30-50/tonne in most AA contracts."
The producer said it had been more difficult to achieve increases for acrylates as consumers are less concerned about material going short in the coming weeks. "Acrylates contracts for November have gone up by around €10-30/tonne," the producer said. "There were also some rollovers, depending on starting point," it added.
Another producer said there had initially been higher pricing targets for November. "Some of the announcements were surprising, given the market situation," it said. "Most customers have not accepted any serious increases, except on AA where customers are reliant on Asian material. They were receptive to price increases." The producer said a few accounts had moved up by €100/tonne, but others had moved up by €50-60/tonne.
The second producer went on to say that its acrylate esters contracts had rolled over. "I've not seen any real movement on esters. We had a rollover on these. The market is very quiet."
Consumers said the majority of their AA and acrylate esters contracts had either rolled over, decreased slightly or moved up with a small increase. "There are no big changes this month," one buyer said.
A few consumers said their butyl acrylate (butyl-A) contracts for November had decreased by €10-20/tonne, and said some 2-ethylhexyl acrylate (2-EHA) prices had softened.
AA contracts for November were assessed at €1,880-1,910/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe), €20-30/tonne higher than October's contracts.
Methyl acrylate (methyl-A) prices were assessed this month slightly higher at €1,830-1,890/tonne FD NWE. Ethyl acrylate (ethyl-A) November contract prices are up by €10/tonne on the low end at €1,910-1,940/tonne FD NWE.
Butyl-A prices are unchanged at €1,840-1,890/tonne FD NWE, as are 2-EHA contract prices at €2,130-2,170/tonne.
Another buyer said: "Material is available to pick and choose. December demand will be lower than November. It was okay to give producers a bit of margin this month, but if propylene goes down, then I want a price reduction [in December]."
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