Price and market trends: US acrylates contracts weaken

04 July 2014 10:13 Source:ICIS Chemical Business

The decrease took June glacial acrylic acid (GAA) to a new range of $1.07-1.11/lb for small to mid-sized buyers

US acrylic acid and acrylate esters free-market contract prices fell in June on weaker upstream values and plentiful supply, sources confirmed on 25 June.

Despite steady demand in architectural and industrial coatings, adhesives and automotive applications, market consensus indicated that prices were broadly weaker by an average of 2 cents/lb ($44/tonne), although some customers confirmed settlements flat to as much as 3 cents/lb lower.

The decrease took June glacial acrylic acid (GAA) to a new range of $1.07-1.11/lb, as assessed by ICIS, for small to mid-sized buyers of 3m-5m lbs/year.

Feedstock chemical-grade propylene (CGP) May contracts fell by a 0.5 cents/lb, and June contracts fell by 3 cents/lb, portending heightened pressure for lower acrylates prices in July.

The American Acryl acrylic acid plant in Bayport, Texas near Houston was confirmed to have restarted earlier in June without incident following a spring turnaround. The 120,000 tonne/year plant is a joint venture of Arkema and Nippon Shokubai subsidiary NA Industries.

Arkema’s new methyl acrylate plant in Clear Lake, Texas, which was announced in Q3 2010, has begun operating and is producing spec-grade material, the company said. Previously, the company converted its butyl acrylate plant at Bayport to a 2-ethylhexyl acrylate plant.

Downstream, US single-family home sales surged in May, and existing home sales increased as well. Sales of US single-family new homes were at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 504,000 in May, an increase of almost 19% over 425,000 in April, according to the US Department of Commerce. The May figure was almost a 17% increase over May 2013.

News at the other end of the spectrum indicated the US economy contracted by 2.9% on an annualised basis in the first quarter, according to the Commerce Department - the sharpest downturn since the 5.4% downturn seen in Q1 2009 in the midst of the Great Recession.

The nation’s first-quarter economy was initially reported as a 1% decline. In its third and final estimate of Q1 GDP, the department said that economic output fell even further because consumer spending was lower than initially estimated, and the decline in US exports was more pronounced than in earlier measures.

US propylene inventories ended the week ended 20 June down 1.7% versus a week earlier, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). The decline is the second week-on-week drawdown, which sources said could lead to higher spot prices for refinery-grade propylene (RGP).

By Larry Terry