Europe acetic acid March contracts stable to slightly higher

15 March 2013 23:59  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--European acetic acid March contract prices were assessed by ICIS on Friday at €400-450/tonne ($519-584/tonne), up by €10/tonne at the high end compared with February.

The contracts were concluded on a free delivered (FD) northwest Europe (NWE) basis.

The price trend for March was indicated as stable to slightly higher. Some prices were heard above the assessed range, but the low end was confirmed as still being valid.

Availability remains good, but a moderate increase in the second-quarter methanol contract price is expected.

Sources indicated spot prices are steady, with most accounts for truck deliveries falling into the range of €480-500/tonne FD NWE, while bulk prices continue to be heard in the low €400s/tonne FD NWE.

First-quarter contract prices are starting to be concluded, with initial outcomes suggesting that the €30/tonne increase recorded for the upstream first-quarter methanol contract has been largely counterbalanced by persistent good availability and lacklustre demand in some sectors.

Rollovers and minor adjustments in both directions have been heard.

One buyer noted demand for downstream purified terephthalic acid (PTA) is weak, and this in turn has depressed demand for acetic acid from the sector.

The source suggested the supply-demand balance justified a first-quarter price decrease, but the higher cost of methanol had established a price floor.

No significant market impact has been seen in Europe as a result of the 100% sales control imposed by Celanese. The move stemmed from disruptions in the supply of a key raw material at its Clear Lake plant in Texas, the US, according to a customer letter that was seen by ICIS.

The sales control began on 26 February and will last until 30 April for European customers, according to the letter. European buyers confirmed that Celanese has not imposed any restrictions on contractual deliveries. The plant has a nameplate capacity of 1.2m tonnes/year.

($1 = €0.77)

By: Samuel Weatherlake
+44 20 8652 3214

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