31 May 2013 23:38 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--US methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) prices dropped slightly for the first time since early February because of softer-than-expected demand and steady supply, sources confirmed on Friday.
MEK supply has been balanced for much of the year and feedstock ethylene prices have yet to settle since March, keeping MEK prices flat for the last several weeks.
Weak downstream demand led suppliers to drop prices for May. Several sources confirmed a 2 cent/lb ($22/tonne, €17/tonne) drop.
MEK prices were assessed at 79-81 cents/lb by ICIS.
Market participants are not yet clear if demand is simply slow to appear for the year or if it is not going to show up at all.
Weak macroeconomic conditions and colder-than-usual spring temperatures in the US have slowed solvent demand, particularly from the coatings and construction industries, which typically see a pick-up by now.
Flattening activity in construction-related resins, coatings, pigments and other construction-related chemicals suggests the pace of the housing recovery may be slow for the rest of the year, according to the American Chemistry Council (ACC).
Over half of MEK demand comes from the paints and coatings industry.
US MEK suppliers include Shell Chemical, ExxonMobil and Sasol.($1 = €0.77)
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