Americas Chemical Industry Outlook for 2014

07 January 2014 20:30 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The following OUTLOOK '14 stories were published by ICIS news between Monday, 23 December 2013 and Monday, 6 January 2014. Please click on the headlines to read the full versions.

OUTLOOK ’14: US benzene supply expected to follow global trend
With 2013 coming to a close, a large majority of US benzene market participants have said they expect the market to be long for much of 2014. Many trade participants added that they expect supply demand balances to be similar for 2014.

OUTLOOK ’14: US styrene expected to be more tied to market conditions
US styrene trade participants expect 2014 to see supply remain tight alongside moderate growth in some consumer areas. In addition, some suppliers expect to see more of a disconnect between the styrene market and feedstock benzene costs.

OUTLOOK ’14: Benzene continues to be wild card in US PS, EPS pricing
Volatile benzene pricing will continue to be the driver for US polystyrene (PS) and expandable polystyrene (EPS) pricing in 2014, with flat to only slight growth anticipated for both markets, sources said.

OUTLOOK `14: North America TiO2 pricing power unlikely until H2
North American TiO2 market supply will be plentiful heading into the new year, sources said, but although there is little talk of continued oversupply, pricing power is not expected to return to the market anytime soon.

OUTLOOK ’14: US acetyls to see price hikes, turnarounds in Q1, Q2
The US acetyls chain should see more price increases and significant maintenance activity in the first and second quarters of the new year.

OUTLOOK `14: US phenol rates will continue to limit acetone supply
The US acetone market in 2014 will be balanced to tight in the first half of the year, most sources said, aggravated only slightly in the first quarter because of the absence of some volume after a mid-December unplanned outage at Blue Island Phenol’s 26,600 tonne/year plant in Illinois.

OUTLOOK ’14: Methanol watchers look for price drop in January
Methanol veterans expect spot barge prices to drop in the first few months of 2014 because of more production coming online in the US.

OUTLOOK ’14: US solvents could see roller coaster of activity
The first quarter could bring mixed results for solvents in the US petrochemicals markets. While propylene-driven petrochemicals such as isopropanol alcohol (IPA) and methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK) could see price increases based on higher raw materials costs, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) prices could remain flat to soft.

OUTLOOK '14: US oxo-alcohols, plasticizers face market shift
The US oxo-alcohols and plasticizers markets are enjoying accelerating growth heading into 2014 as a rebound in housing and construction activity pushes downstream demand for polyvinyl chloride (PVC), paints and coatings and a wide number of consumer and other products that demand flexible plastic and transparent film.

OUTLOOK '14: US soda ash faces challenges in consumption, competition
If 2013 marked the return of the US soda ash industry to near its previous peak, 2014 promises to be the year in which the industry sets new production and sales records.

OUTLOOK '14: US etac, butac activity to rebound for coatings season
The US ethyl acetate (etac) and butyl acetate (butac) markets – which are ending 2013 somewhat quiet and flat – could see quite a bit of activity the first quarter of 2014.

OUTLOOK ’14: Group III base oils reach event horizon
The year 2013 ushered in the advent of significant changes to global base oils, primarily led by increasing production and use of Group II stocks. The year 2014 is likely to be the event horizon for Group III base oils.

OUTLOOK ’14: US fatty alcohol price sentiment remains flat
Price sentiment for US fatty alcohols going into 2014 remains largely flat, with routine demand and growing Asian supply underpinning that perspective.

OUTLOOK ’14: Oleochemical markets eyes US biodiesel sector’s fate
Global oleochemical players are closely watching the fate of the highly politicized US biodiesel industry as a gauge for what 2014 holds in store.

OUTLOOK '14: North American sulphur prices headed up for now
The North American sulphur market will likely see price increases in Q1 2014 reflecting tightening in the international market. Whether these increases are sustainable is an open question, as there are concerns about unpredictable speculator activity in China and whether phosphate prices will continue to recover.

OUTLOOK ’14: Additional capacity, margins will be key to US ethylene
Continuing battles for margin between US ethylene producers and derivatives producers and additional capacity expected to hit the market will be the biggest drivers in the US ethylene market for 2014.

OUTLOOK ’14: US EG increase anticipated at start of new year
US ethylene glycol (EG) contract prices are poised to rise in January on the back of producer-led price increases.

OUTLOOK ’14: US propylene could start strong before big fall
With US propylene prices expected to start 2014 strong, there could be nowhere to go but down for much of the rest of the year.

OUTLOOK ’14: Coatings could boost MMA; epoxy set to struggle
The US spring coatings season can’t arrive fast enough for the US methyl methacrylate (MMA) and epoxy resins markets, but is likely only to save one.

OUTLOOK ’14: Tight supply expected to support US polyolefins pricing
While positive economic signs are bolstering sentiment about improved demand in the US polyolefins sector in 2014, tight supply of feedstocks and polymers in the first half of the year is expected to lend support to pricing.

OUTLOOK ’14: US PET price direction uncertain due to feedstock
Price direction in the US polyethylene terephthalate (PET) market heading into 2014 has become uncertain on the back of difficult-to-settle feedstock.

OUTLOOK ’14: US chlor-alkali export options strong for 2014
HOUSTON (ICIS)--US chlor-alkali export options look strong going into 2014, as lower natural gas and overall energy costs in the US offer good ECU (electrochemical unit) margins.

OUTLOOK ’14: Transformations to spark chemical M&A activity
The global chemical mergers and acquisitions (M&A) market is set to get an extra kick in 2014 as chemical companies become more aggressive on transformations, shedding non-core assets to focus on key growth areas. The financing market for deals is also expected to remain strong, along with buyer interest from both strategic and financial players.

OUTLOOK ’14: US butadiene market at mercy of consumer habits
US butadiene (BD) market players feel that consumer choices and gasoline prices will go a long way toward determining their 2014.

OUTLOOK '14: US SBR expecting slow recovery as tyre demand picks up
While the slow recovery in the replacement tyre market has made the US styrene-butadiene-rubber (SBR) industry cautious about the outlook for 2014, some believe there is room for optimism with demand slowly picking up as the economy continues to improve.

OUTLOOK ’14: Steady-to-soft PVC in LatAm on balanced supply/demand
Industry participants are projecting steady to soft polyvinyl chloride (PVC) domestic markets in Latin America in early 2014 on balanced fundamentals in the region.

OUTLOOK ’14: Currency volatility, imports to influence LatAm PE
Polyethylene prices in Latin America have been influenced by many factors such as the cost of raw materials or changes in availability of resins, but the factor that has had the greatest impact in 2013 has been volatility in currency fluctuations, which is expected to continue in 2014.

OUTLOOK ’14: LatAm PP plants could benefit if PDH plants proliferate
Availability of raw materials will continue to be the key for polypropylene (PP) production in Latin America during 2014.

OUTLOOK ’14: LatAm PS prices to keep moving in a narrow band
Latin American polystyrene (PS) markets have varied little all year and have not shown great differences from country to country, trends that are expected to continue in 2014.

OUTLOOK ’14: US gasoline prices more influenced by bearish oil
US gasoline prices this year may not reach the highs seen in 2013 as increased production rates and a greater influence from bearish crude oil prices will heavily influence the commodity.

OUTLOOK ’14: US spot propane prices gain strength as supplies dwindle
Supplies of propane heading into 2014 are not keeping pace with demand despite projections of increased production of the natural gas liquid (NGL), lending strength to prices.

OUTLOOK ’14: US fuel ethanol industry recovers on robust corn harvest
Despite improved margins in 2013, the future of fuel ethanol production in the US may be ultimately in the hands of lawmakers in 2014.

OUTLOOK ’14: US biodiesel uncertain as politics take center stage
The highly politicised US biodiesel industry looks uncertain going into 2014 amid stagnant US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) blending mandate proposals and doubt in the sector that the $1/gal federal tax credit will be renewed.

OUTLOOK ’14: US economy to build on new energy, global recovery
Driven by abundant new energy supplies, a strengthening global recovery and increasing domestic consumer demand, the US economy is widely expected to reach or come very close to normal growth rates in 2014.

OUTLOOK ’14: Industry hopes for action on TSCA, CFATS
The US chemicals industry hopes to get congressional approval in the new year for a long-needed modernisation of rules governing control of chemicals in commerce and an as-is extension for a federal mandate for plant site security - but both have to happen by mid-year or else get mired in the midterm election mess.

OUTLOOK '14: US chem, refiner stock prices end year on high note
Stock prices for several North American petrochemical producers and refiners ended the year near 52-week highs.

OUTLOOK '14: Smaller projects presage gas-fueled plant boom
The new year will have mostly smaller projects coming on line before the surge of activity begins in the second half of the decade.

OUTLOOK '14: Energy reform may lift Mexico economy out of doldrums
Mexico's economy could grow by as little as 0.9% this year, but the prospects of energy reform could give the country a much needed boost.

OUTLOOK '14: Economic prospects darken for Brazil
Economic prospects continue to darken for Brazil, Latin America's largest economy.

INSIDE VIEW: Safety, trade, energy top ACC 2014 agenda
The business of chemistry was one of the bright spots in the US economy in 2013, and it is clear that the best is yet to come.

INSIDE VIEW: Industry challenges, opportunities for 2014
Forgive me for using what has become an overused saying, but as I look ahead to 2014, it seems like déjà vu all over again.

By Staff Reporter