The Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) markets are covered by ICIS on a weekly basis in Asia, Europe and the US. These benchmark assessments, used widely by industry, are key to keeping you fully informed of market developments.
Prices are predominantly for the spot market, though domestic and regional quotes also appear. Our locally-based reporters give informed but unbiased commentary on market overviews, upstream and downstream movements, economic news, graphs and plant shutdowns/operating rates, when applicable.
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 Q4 2016
Sellers in the European methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) market are expected to aim to rebuild margins by introducing price rises due to extremely low prices in Q3.
With structural demand in the spot market relatively low it remains to be seen whether it will be possible to pass through increases to buyers.
Imports from South America and Africa are also expected to have a greater influence on the market going forward.
In Asia, prices are near record highs on mounting upstream costs for feedstock butane.
The outlook for the first half of November is positive, as most market players expressed confidence that demand would continue to be strong, whilst supply remained tight. On the other hand, some cautioned that the volatile feedstock prices could also weigh on the MEK price movements.
In the US, prices have been flat since July, and market participants say they don’t see anything in the short-term that will impact prices higher or lower.
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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).