Price and market trends: US May barge, truck acetone prices weaken

06 June 2014 10:07 Source:ICIS Chemical Business

US May barge acetone and truck prices have weakened on softer feedstock and ample supply, sources confirmed on 29 May. The monthly large-buyer barge contract has fully settled lower by 1 cent/lb ($22/tonne) from April, sources had confirmed by 29 May. Barge acetone is sold largely into the MMA market, which is in the midst of a couple of spring outages.

Most sources said supply and softer feedstock refinery-grade propylene (RGP) had pressured the barge price downward. It settled at 66.25 cents/lb for May, down from 67.25 cents/lb in April.

So far during May, RGP has softened by 5-6 cents/lb from 60.25 cents/lb at the beginning of the month, driven mostly by longer supply as US refiners focus on gasoline production, which creates more RGP as a byproduct.

The US barge acetone contract is typically negotiated between three large producers – Axiall, INEOS Phenol and Shell – and the three largest buyers – Dow Chemical, Evonik and Lucite.

In the US truck market, prices weakened early in the month by an average of 3 cents/lb, taking the May delivered contract to a new range of 71-75 cents/lb, as assessed by ICIS.

Distributors to the solvents markets were heard to be keeping inventory low on concerns that prices will weaken again in the near term, although some sources said prices had stabilised later in the month or might be strengthening mildly.

By Larry Terry