22 February 2013 10:24 [Source: ICB]
Prices remain flat to up slightly, but larger increases could come in March or April with a rise in activity in key sectors
European February contract prices for acrylic acid (AA) and acrylate esters have largely rolled over on steady demand in a balanced-to-long market, sources said.
Market conditions remain reasonably soft, but producers - aided by the €10/tonne ($13/tonne) rise in the February feedstock propylene price - were able to regain some margin that had eroded since the second quarter of 2012.
Demand has picked up slightly since the beginning of the year and is expected to improve in March and April, in line with increased activity in the coatings and construction sectors. Prices are likely to increase as producers intend to recoup costs.
Expectations of higher feedstock costs and firmer demand are likely to support their efforts, sources said. Spot prices have moved up since January and are set to continue rising in the coming weeks, players said, adding further upward pressure to March prices.
"We've rolled over into the new month on all esters and AA, no problem. Next month, not so sure," one buyer said.
Settlements varied depending on starting point, with some contracts decreasing by €30/tonne and others increasing by €10-40/tonne. Higher increases were agreed to, but these were not seen as representative, with the majority of buyers and sellers confirming that prices had not changed much since January.
"There is every need to increase the margins on the products after the demise during last year," a producer said. "However, the market is not yet fully accepting the change in approach. There are certainly increases being accepted but more in the region of €20-40/tonne."
AA contracts for February are at €1,860-1,880/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe).
February butyl acrylate (butyl-A) contracts are at €1,820-1,860/tonne FD NWE. 2-ethyl hexyl acrylate (2-EHA) contract prices have settled at €2,110-2,140/tonne.
The AA, butyl-A and 2-EHA price ranges have been assessed down by €3/tonne on the low end to bring them more in line with market prices.
AA and its esters are used in the manufacture of various plastics, coatings, adhesives and elastomers, as well as floor polishes and paints.
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