US April acrylates contract values decline on softer propylene

24 April 2013 22:27  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US April acrylic acid and acrylate esters contract values fell on weaker feedstock pricing and soft demand, sources confirmed on Wednesday.

Glacial acrylic acid (GAA) and methyl acrylate (methyl-A) contract prices, which settled flat for April, were assessed lower by 4 cents/lb ($88/tonne, €68/tonne). Other esters were assessed 7 cents/lb lower after rising marginally in March and then returning to more typical ranges for April, sources said.

The decline took April GAA to a new range of $1.15-1.19/lb, as assessed by ICIS.

Demand has not rebounded, though sources are increasingly hopeful that buying interest from construction and remodelling sectors will rescue the delayed and still-soft spring painting season.

However, other sources said that more weakness is imminent.

“We should see another drop, albeit larger, in May with [April] propylene down by 10 cents/lb,” an acrylates buyer said. “The coatings season has not really kicked in, there is plenty of inventory and feedstock is down. This all points to much lower prices.”

The US economic expansion is modest, but the recovery should see measured gains through the rest of this year, a key chemicals industry barometer indicated during the week.

In its monthly index of chemical industry activity, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) showed an 0.2% gain this month from the March measure – negligible by some standards but the ninth consecutive monthly improvement.

The index combines data from a range of chemicals and sectors, including production of chlorine and other alkalis, pigments, plastic resins and basic industrial chemicals.

On the feedstock front, the steep 10 cents/lb decline in the US April propylene contract may have spurred some buying interest in spot propylene late in the week, creating a slight rebound as some appear to have chosen to restock inventory.

Buyers felt the February contract price hike of 6 cents/lb was overdone, especially as spot prices declined following the contract settlement. The 6 cents/lb drop in March propylene contracts did little to spur additional buying but moved acrylates feedstock chemical-grade propylene (CGP) to 61.5 cents/lb.

The US oxo-alcohols 2-ethylhexanol (2-EH) and n-butanol (NBA) markets were steady after a decline in April pricing, but upstream softness suggests more weakness in May.

US acrylates producers include Dow Chemical, Arkema and BASF.

($1 = €0.77)

By: Larry Terry
1 713 525 2653

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