Europe MA prices soften on competition from Asia, US

Author: Anne-Sophie Briant-Vaghela


LONDON (ICIS)--European maleic anhydride (MA) prices have softened on the back of mediocre demand and outstanding stocks of competitively-priced imports from Asia and the US.

VARIOUSEurope MA liquid prices were at €1,310-€1,370/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe), down €15-€30/tonne.

The MA flake price range narrowed to €1,440-€1,485/tonne FD NWE as the high end eroded by €15/tonne.

Some buyers chose to reduce volumes on contract and spot from some European producers to make room for US imports on liquid MA instead, because demand was not strong enough to support European prices.

Although some material is still expected to arrive in July, some market participants were expecting influx into Europe ex-Asia and US to recede and demand to improve.

A southern European producer has been back to full production for two weeks but not partaking on the spot market.

Demand downstream was homogeneous across all sectors.

It remains to be seen how resilient MA prices will be to feedstock crude, n-butane and benzene price trends.

Crude oil prices for Brent fell from $72.21/bbl on 17 May to $62.64/bbl on 7 June on the back of concerns over the global economy, heightened by the US-China trade war, and rises in US crude inventories.

Expectations that OPEC will extend its output cuts into the second half of 2019 provided crude oil prices some support.

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MA is mostly used in the manufacture of unsaturated polyesters resins (UPRs) used in the production of boat hulls, bathroom fixtures, automobiles, tanks and pipes. Other outlets include 1,4- butanediol (BDO), tetrahydrofuran (THF) and gamma-butyrolactone (GBL).

Picture source: Shutterstock