29 March 2014 17:20 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--US polyether polyols markets remain steady as feedstock costs soften after hefty propylene price increases in December and January, according to input from market participants heading into this year’s International Petrochemical Conference (IPC).
Higher prices for upstream propylene drove firmer values for polyether polyols. Propylene contract prices rose by 4 cents/lb in December and 4 cents/lb in January, but have recently been retreating. Propylene contract prices were down by 1 cent/lb for February and 1.5 cents/lb for March.
The propylene price hikes of December and January drove a 6 cent/lb ($132/tonne) increase for polyether polyols assessed during the first quarter.
In some cases, the polyols increases have already been implemented, although in a few cases the increases will not become effective until the beginning of the second quarter, depending on contract terms.
Demand for downstream polyurethane (PU) products in automotive applications has been strong, sources said. The recent slowdown in activity along with an automobile inventory build-up was attributed to the unusually harsh winter, but participants expect that warming weather will bring back buyers to the showrooms.
In other sectors, demand is said to be seasonally adequate, although the snow and cold weather in the US northeast have delayed some shipments.
Flexible slab polyether polyols prices are currently assessed by ICIS at 134-164 cents/lb in bulk, after the increases.
US polyether polyols suppliers include Bayer MaterialScience, BASF, Dow Chemical and Huntsman.
Hosted by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), the IPC takes place 30 March through 1 April in San Antonio, Texas.
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