Price and market trends: Europe butyl-A faces pressure from Asia

04 July 2014 10:13 Source:ICIS Chemical Business

Material is largely being imported from Asia – notably from South Korea and China – where demand is lacklustre

Butyl acrylate (butyl-A) spot prices in Europe continue to face downward pressure as a global oversupply has resulted in an increased number of imports into the region, sources said on 25 June.

Prices are now at €1,380-1,450/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe), €20/tonne lower than values seen the prior week. Butyl-A prices in Europe were previously seen around this level in the first quarter of 2010.

Material is largely being imported from Asia – notably from South Korea and China – where demand is lacklustre.

Consumers in Asia are reluctant to build up inventories given current fundamentals in the region, and the upcoming Muslim Ramadan fasting month is expected to cause a slowdown in demand for acrylate esters as downstream plants are likely to be shut or to run at lower operating rates.

Global oversupply is being attributed to additional capacity in Asia and in Saudi Arabia amid steady but slower-than-usual demand. European suppliers are also offering butyl-A at lower prices to remain competitive.

The dip in prices has come as a surprise to the sector as the market typically sees upward price pressure during June as demand from the end-use coatings sector is at its peak. Offtake this year, however, has followed a different pattern from normal.

Demand increased earlier than expected in February because of mild winter temperatures. Activity in the construction sector ramped up and this gave some buoyancy to the market, which carried on until around the end of March.

Buying interest since then has plateaued. Traders said prices could decrease further in July if demand tapers off because of the summer slowdown.

Acrylate esters are used to make paints, coatings, textiles, adhesives, polishes and plastics. The esters include methyl acrylate (methyl-A), ethyl acrylate (ethyl-A), butyl-A and 2-ethylhexyl acrylate (2-EHA).

By Helena Strathearn