Mixed outlook for June demand in Europe MEK market

31 May 2013 13:18  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Demand for methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) in Europe is stable at a low level, but views regarding June demand are mixed, sources said on Friday.

One buyer said: “Demand is currently low, but steady. I would also say that it's now gaining some momentum. Prices should start to slowly push upwards, as they are rock-bottom low. Manufacturers are currently losing money on this commodity,” it said.

MEK in the UK is at £950-990/tonne (€1,105-1,151/tonne) FD (free delivered) UK, while material in Europe is at €1,100-1,130/tonne FD NWE (northwest Europe) this week. “We’ve done some business, but it's been few and far between,” a trader said.

Weak macroeconomic conditions and colder-than-usual spring temperatures in Europe have slowed solvent demand, particularly from the coatings and construction industries, which typically see a pick-up in activity in March and during the warmer months.

Sources said material is easily available, and some said offtake will taper off during the summer holidays.

A UK trader said: “Nobody’s painting garden fences or doing the DIY they should be doing. I like to think it could improve in June, but people are now looking at summer.”

The buyer said: “As for demand last year at the same time, it was definitely higher. It was probably 30-40% higher last year, but, once again, I see it slowly picking up in June.”

MEK spot prices at the end of May 2012 were averaging €1,420/tonne FD NWE.

Another UK trader said demand would be stable in June. It said: “I’m certainly not expecting demand to pick up much.” It added that any pick-up was likely to be “bitty and spasmodic”.

($1 = €0.77, €1 = £0.86)

By: Helena Strathearn
+44 208 652 3214

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