27 February 2014 00:28 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US methyl methacrylate (MMA) contract range for February settled higher by an average of 3.50 cents/lb ($77/tonne), but sharply lower than initial proposals, sources confirmed on Wednesday.
The increase moved contract MMA railcar values to $1.29-1.33/lb, as assessed by ICIS.
The settlements came amid a late feedstock acetone settlement in the previous month, which may have stymied market talks, sources suggested. Proposed MMA increases were in the range of 5-6 cents/lb.
As for current barge acetone, February large-buyer barge talks continued this week, with downward pressure from weaker propylene and demand.
MMA settlements of 2-4 cents/lb had been heard within the market for the month, with one buyer insisting that sellers should give back some of their feedstock costs in March if upstream propylene continues to weaken and demand does not strengthen.
“The raw materials were not as robust as we expected,” a seller said, but the producer insisted that demand has grown within the last two months and is currently balanced with supply.
A couple of buyers argued, however, that supply appears balanced to marginally long.
Demand from housing, which uses MMA for coatings, is uncertain, buyers said. And until the markets get a clearer indication of downstream health, recovery is tentative at best, a buyer added.
MMA producers are more confident.
Nonetheless, recent housing statistics are mixed.
In the fourth quarter of 2013, the S&P home-price index declined by 0.3%, reflecting a slowdown in month-to-month growth and indicating that the strongest part of the recovery in home values may be over, an S&P source said.
US MMA producers include Lucite, Dow Chemical, Evonik and Arkema.
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