Methyl ethyl ketone Prices, markets & analysis
ICIS provides independent and unbiased pricing information, news and market analysis for the global Methyl ethyl ketone market. Our network of price reporters, based in Asia, Europe and the US, deliver local insight for each of these markets, which is published in our individual weekly and daily price reports.
If you buy or sell Methyl ethyl ketone or related products, our reports, news and market intelligence will give you the prices and analysis of the factors driving the prices that you need to make confident commercial decisions.
Our editor gives their expert view
Methyl ethyl ketone Overview transcript
Methyl ethyl ketone or MEK is a solvent used mainly in paints and coatings and adhesives. It is also found in household products such as lacquer, varnishes, and paint remover.
Japan, Taiwan, China and the US are key exporters to markets such as South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand. Most sellers outside of China have long-term supply contracts, with distributors across Asia, and prices are usually settled on a monthly basis.
The Chinese tend to be spot sellers and any big swings in their supply can quickly impact regional prices.
The predominance of long-term supply agreements has done little to keep Asian prices stable in recent years, with demand growth outstripping capacity expansions in Asia, any tightening in supply due to plant shutdowns can effect prices significantly.
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Methyl ethyl ketone news and market information products from ICIS
We offer the following regional Methyl ethyl ketone analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Methyl ethyl ketone marketplace.
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Methyl ethyl ketone: Market overview
Updated to Q2 2015
US prices of methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) plummeted by more than 25% in the first quarter, correcting after prices in Q4 2014 climbed to their highest levels in three years. Sentiment among market participants is the price could still go slightly lower before reaching the bottom.
Asian prices are expected to be firmer, should the seasonal peak in the second quarter happen. During spring, when the weather is more conductive for production, demand typically steps up, while manufacturing activities hasten in key importing countries, including South Korea and southeast Asia. In the latter region, stocking up activities are expected pre- and post-holidays.
Most players expect the European MEK market to stabilise in the second quarter following price spikes in Q4 2014 and decreases at the beginning of 2015. Sources expect that Asian producers will cease to sell substantial MEK volumes in the European spot market, because steadily declining prices mean that exporting material to Europe will be less profitable than in the first quarter. Demand in the second quarter may be affected by some buyers having switched to alternative products during Q4 2014.
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Methyl Ethyl Ketone Methodology
About Methyl ethyl ketone
Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) is a colourless, mobile, flammable liquid with an acetone like odour. It is soluble in ethyl alcohol, benzene, ether and acetone, and miscible with oils. It is also a fast-evaporating active solvent with an evaporation rate similar to ethyl acetate.
The main application for MEK is as a low-boiling solvent for nitrocellulose, acrylic and vinyl surface coatings. Around half of global MEK demand is derived from the paints and coatings industry. Its advantage is that low viscosity solutions can be obtained, having a high solids content, without affecting the film properties. These lacquers are used in the automotive, electrical goods and furniture industries.
MEK can also be used in rubber-based industrial cements and printing inks. Its fast evaporation rate makes it popular for rubber-based industrial cements, low-temperature bonding agents and as an azeotropic separation solvent for printing inks. It is also a component of the solvent system used in producing magnetic tape.
MEK is also a solvent required for the polymerisation processing of polystyrene, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), and styrene-butadiene-rubber (SBR).