Europe spot acetone prices edge up despite low summer demand

09 August 2013 12:49  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--European acetone spot prices continue to edge up despite a summer lull in demand from the solvents sector, sources said on Friday.

“There really is not anything to say, it’s very quiet,” said one trader.

“If demand comes back, it’s difficult to say what will happen. There is quite a gap in prices and not everybody is aware what is going on,” the trader added.

The trader said some of its customers could buy at €830/tonne ($1,107/tonne) FCA (free carrier alongside), but stressed that €880-910/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe) was its “rock-bottom” price.

Availability of acetone has diminished because of ongoing cuts in production of primary product phenol. Market tightness created because of this and an increase in the feedstock propylene contract price has lifted acetone spot price ideas and intentions.

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

The feeling in the market is that phenol demand will remain low. A major phenol producer said it felt its downstream demand had got worse.

“There’s not too much to say on phenol, it’s so bad.  I would avoid taking a position. Producers have plenty available and there is no chance to export any,” one industry source said.

Regarding the acetone market, the source said: “[Acetone] demand does not need to come back strong - just normally and prices will move. I don’t think to €1,000/tonne, but maybe the mid-€900s/tonne.”

In the re-sale market, a distributor described the acetone market as “a bit misty”.

“Producers want to increase their levels, but now is not the right time to do so. There are some slight movements up, but timing it not good for €1,000/tonne. It’s not smart to do this I think,” the distributor source said.

Meanwhile, a large buyer of acetone said it was more than covered for its downstream methyl methacrylate (MMA) production.

“I’ve no need for spot outside October - I simply won't be shopping in the spot market,” the buyer said.

The European August acetone methyl methacrylate (MMA) contract price increase by €38/tonne on the back of propylene.

Acetone producers had been seeking an increase of €50/tonne from July to August based on tight supply as well as high feed costs, while buyers would have preferred an increase €25/tonne.

($1 = €0.75)

By: Julia Meehan
+44 20 8652 3214

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