US August MMA settles up, but initiatives fall short

30 August 2013 21:51  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US August methyl methacrylate (MMA) contract truck and rail values settled up on Friday by an average of 2 cents/lb ($44/tonne, €33/tonne) despite announced price-hike initiatives of 5-6 cents/lb.

The increase took the MMA railcar price to a new range of $1.20-1.22/lb, as assessed by ICIS.

Although settlements across the market ranged from rollovers to fully realised increases, those extremes appeared to be exceptions. While some buyers were granted flat settlements early in the month, most settlements eventually occurred at the low end of nominated ranges.

The increase, driven partly by static July pricing and supply constraints, fell short on competition, marginal to weak feedstock pressure and a lack of robust demand.

“Coatings demand is still pretty good, but it is late in the season,” a producer conceded.

Upstream operational problems forced one producer to restrict MMA sales in August via a force majeure, but that measure was relatively short-lived, and the seller said it planned to resume shipment of typical contractual volumes on 1 September.

Most sources said supply remained snug across the market, while others described it as balanced with unseasonably low but stable demand.

The supply allocations stemming from the August force majeure skewed what might otherwise have been a truer picture of demand during the period, a producer said.

Now it and other market participants say they are awaiting more typical buying patterns – if it is not too late.

On the economic front, new orders for US durable goods fell sharply in July from June, the Commerce Department said on Monday, dropping by 7.3% overall, largely due to a 52.3% plummet in orders for civilian airliners and parts. The overall decline from June was 0.6% with aircraft and other transportation equipment orders backed out of the total.

Downstream, the august barge acetone contract was settled this week, taking the price to 66.5 cents/lb, an increase of 2.5 cents/lb from July.

US MMA producers include Lucite, Arkema, Dow Chemical and Evonik.

($1 = €0.76)

By: Larry Terry
1 713 525 2653

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