Europe acetone spot prices steady in quiet market

12 April 2013 16:31  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--European acetone spot prices are steady and demand has eased in the solvents market, sources said on Friday.

“We’ve not seen any change to the price of spot acetone this week. We’ve had fewer enquiries and I don’t think there are any problems with availability,” said a distributor source.

“I think €1,050/tonne [$1,382/tonne] is a market price for this week,” the distributor added.

After peaking at a 2013 high of €1,150/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe) in the second half of February, acetone spot prices have slowly been in decline because demand from the solvents sector has eased.

However, operating rates for primary product phenol remain at a low level because of ongoing weak demand for key phenol derivative bisphenol A (BPA) into polycarbonate (PC), which means that the European market is far from awash with acetone.

For every tonne of phenol produced, 0.62 tonnes of acetone is made.

In relation to acetone spot business this week, a trader said: “I heard €1,025/tonne in Germany on an FD basis, but I think this is on a low level. Maybe there is more available for one of two trucks but not for larger quantities.”

“The market is really quiet and demand is not so good, but I have the feeling that people are waiting for prices to come down and customers are under no pressure to buy,” the trader added.

Another source in the resale market described its demand as “okay”.

“Acetone prices have stabilised at €1,020-1,050/tonne FD. Availability is not a problem at all but there’s not plenty of stuff around. Demand is okay but if it was higher I think there could be problems. But at the moment there is nothing to worry about,” the source said.

Acetone producers agreed that there had been no major changes to the acetone market from one week to the next, indeed, most believed that after hitting a ceiling in February, acetone prices had now hit a floor.

“Nothing really has changed. Demand is at the same level – not worse or better. It looks like it hit the ceiling then looked like it hit the floor and its now trending up a little,” commented a major producer.

A second producer source said: “The acetone market has been pretty quiet. It got hot in February and peaked, but did the high price kill demand?”

A number of sources in the acetone market firmly believe that the lack of demand is owed to acetone becoming too expensive for the solvents market.

“Those that don’t need it won’t buy it and if they can substitute it for a cheaper solvent they will,” said an Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) based distributor.

($1 = €0.76)

By: Julia Meehan
+44 20 8652 3214

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