US March barge, truck acetone contract values weaken

01 April 2013 19:11  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US March barge and truck acetone contracts declined mostly on pressure from softer upstream propylene values, which fell in March and are trending similarly downward for April, sources confirmed on Monday.

The barge acetone contract settled down by 5 cents/lb ($110/tonne, €86/tonne), and the truck acetone contract moved down by 6 cents/lb.

The declines took March values to 66 cents/lb, and a range of 73-77 cents/lb, respectively, as assessed by ICIS.

The drops were expected, given upstream weakness, but most sources said April acetone pricing could weaken further on propylene.

However, the impact of weaker propylene will be mitigated by solid demand for and constrained supply of derivative methyl methacrylate (MMA) stemming from lower phenol production rates, sources said.

April truck acetone prices were said likely to drift down into the mid-60s cents/lb range. Some market participants continued to say some material bought at the end of 2012 is making its way into the distribution market and also pushing down the price.

US refinery-grade propylene (RGP) prices were flat late on Friday at 56.25-56.50 from a week earlier on a lack of trades during the week, but could move higher to start April on a slight rebound in spot polymer-grade propylene (PGP) values.

April propylene contracts, however, are expected to shed 6-7 cents/lb on soft demand and weaker spot PGP during most of March.

US spot benzene prices fell by 1-8 cents/gal in the past week, amid downward pressure from price declines in Europe and Asia, and improved availability during March. US benzene trade sources, however, said April benzene is already at a premium, with spot levels about 5-15 cents/gal above March prices last week.

Major US phenol-acetone producers include Axiall, Dow Chemical, Haverhill Chemical, Honeywell, INEOS Phenol, SABIC Innovative Plastics and Shell Chemical.

($1 = €0.78)

By: Larry Terry
1 713 525 2653

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