15 March 2013 23:59 [Source: ICIS news]
The contracts were concluded on a free delivered (FD) northwest Europe (NWE) basis.
The price trend for March contracts was stable to slightly firm, with rollovers and small increases heard for nearly all accounts. The market remains well-supplied and demand is somewhat weak.
Activity in the construction industry usually picks up at this time of year, but this has been postponed by a fall in temperatures across Europe.
One buyer said that the construction industry represents around 80% of its customer base, and emphasised that end-user demand is very poor.
Another buyer said its own offtake is fairly good, but observed that this does not seem to apply to most consumers.
Demand in many sectors has been undermined by macroeconomic weakness in recent months.
The upstream ethylene contract price increased by €50/tonne for March, but it was difficult for producers to secure corresponding increases this month because of the upward price movement they achieved in February.
This had been made possible by supply concerns resulting from the unplanned outage at INEOS's 300,000 tonne/year plant in Hull, the UK, which ended early last month.
However, the overall impact of the shutdown on European availability turned out to be fairly modest.
First-quarter contract prices are in the process of being concluded. One buyer said it has settled its contracts at a small decrease from the fourth quarter, and noted US imports have the benefit of significantly cheaper ethylene costs.
The vast majority of European VAM contracts are now priced on a monthly basis.
Spot prices were assessed stable on Friday in the range of €835-865/tonne FD NWE.
($1 = €0.77)
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