LONDON (ICIS)--April price trends for European plasticizers differ according to grade, market sources said on Wednesday.
The weakest outcomes were seen on diisononyl phthalate (DINP), while dioctyl terephthalate (DOTP) was the most resilient. Spot prices for all grades saw little change throughout the first quarter.
Spot prices were assessed by ICIS on Wednesday at €1,510-1,540/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe) for dioctyl phthalate (DOP), €1,520-1,550/tonne for DINP, €1,575-1,605/tonne FD NWE for dipropyl heptyl phthalate (DPHP) and €1,500-1,550/tonne FD NWE for DOTP.
DINP prices were assessed down by €10-20/tonne, while DPHP prices were down by €10/tonne. Further changes to the assessed price ranges may be seen as the month progresses and more agreements are finalised.
Despite the €10/tonne increase in the April propylene contract, oxo-alcohol prices are little changed, while successive decreases in orthoxylene (OX) prices this year have reduced the cost of phthalic anhydride (PA), a feedstock for DINP, DOP and DPHP.
Most sources say that demand remains below expectations for the time of year, with the rise in offtake that is usually seen in early spring not having materialised. As a result, supply for all grades remains good.
A producer of DINP and DPHP said that it has finalised its April prices, mostly at reductions of €10-20/tonne. The source noted that pressure for price reductions was greater in the case of DINP, and suggested that this was partly due to the possibility of product substitution.
A second producer said that its plasticizer prices were rolled over or reduced by €5-10/tonne, with DINP showing the weakest trend. The source suggested that low demand may be due to higher consumption during the first quarter, and noted that holidays this month will further reduce offtake.
A DPHP producer said that its April prices were agreed at rollovers and reductions of €10/tonne. The source described steady demand, with no major changes this month.
A DOTP producer said that demand is weaker than it had expected, but prices were largely stable from March, with only slight erosion in some regions. The source noted that Chinese prices are bearish and Turkish production capacity has increased.
A buyer said that it had agreed its April DINP prices at a reduction of €10-15/tonne, while its DPHP prices were stable to slightly down.
The buyer said that the lower DINP prices may be related to weakness in Asia, but noted that its own demand is stable month over month at a relatively low level. The source said that it saw no evidence that demand had been distributed more evenly across the first few months of the year.
A UK consumer of DINP said that three of its suppliers had reduced their April prices by £15-20/tonne amid good supply and steady offtake.
A second UK buyer also indicated stable demand, although at lower levels than expected, and said that its prices for all grades except DOTP had fallen by €20/tonne.
An Italian reseller of DOP and DINP said that some of its suppliers had lowered their prices for April, and indicated prices for both grades at €1,410-1,450/tonne FD amid very slow demand.