01 November 2013 23:59 [Source: ICIS news]
Fourth-quarter contract prices for liquid MA were assessed at €1,750-1,850/tonne free delivered (FD) northwest Europe (NWE).
The quarterly contract price range for liquid MA includes domestic European product only and is assessed on a pre-discounted basis.
Price settlements varied considerably, but the majority were heard concluded at increases of €40-80/tonne. Price increases as large as €120/tonne were heard from the sell side, but these could not be verified on the buy side.
One producer said that it had finalised its pre-discounted fourth-quarter contract prices in the range of €1,825-1,850/tonne FD NWE, which represents the high end of the assessed range.
The source had explained that tight supply was the main driver for the price increases, as opposed to higher feedstock costs.
However, some other market participants placed greater emphasis on the role of feedstock n-butane prices.
Other producers indicated that most price increases fell into the range of €70-80/tonne, although smaller increments were agreed in some cases.
There were differing views on n-butane prices: One producer said they are stable or slightly lower, while another indicated a stable-to-rising trend.
MA demand remains good, sellers said, and supply is improving as a result of European plants returning to normal operations.
A reseller indicated that its fourth-quarter contract prices had increased by €30-50/tonne, and net prices are now close to €1,500/tonne FD NWE. Higher prices were noted for the UK.
Buyers mostly described fourth-quarter price increases in the €40-70/tonne range, although larger and smaller increments were also mentioned. Net prices were pegged at €1,500/tonne FD NWE and below.
Sources said that lack of supply had been the key factor, although they expected to see better availability in the coming weeks.
Spot prices were discussed at lower levels this week, closer to net contract prices.
An importer saw liquid MA prices at €1,440-1,500/tonne DDP (delivered duty paid) NWE and €1,500-1,550/tonne FD UK.
Another reseller said a producer based in eastern Europe had offered material at €1,350/tonne FCA (free carrier). The source said that demand is falling as consumers begin to destock, and while supply has eased, there is not a surplus of product.
A reseller in southern Europe said its November prices were settled in the mid-to-high €1,400s/tonne FD as a result of improved availability and strong competition between suppliers of domestic and imported material.
Solid MA prices were also said to be under downward pressure, partly on account of Asian imports. One reseller said that demand for solid product usually picks up in colder weather for logistical reasons, but this has yet to be seen.
Spot prices were assessed at €1,550-1,620/tonne FD NWE for liquid tonnes and €1,740-1,780/tonne FD NWE for flake material on Friday.
European MA producers include Sasol-Huntsman, Polynt, DSM, MOL and CEPSA.
($1 = €0.74)
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