Price and market trends: US phenol contract settles higher

24 February 2014 00:00 Source:ICIS Chemical Business

The US January phenol contract range has settled higher on the concurrent benzene contract increase, sources confirmed on 10 February, although the 2014 benzene adder was still in contention.

The increase of 4.82 cents/lb ($106.26/tonne) moved the new range to $87.49-91.94 cents/lb, as assessed by ICIS, but the phenol range for February will be affected both by the February benzene increase and the movement of the adder.

US phenol

Assessment of the adder – also known as the premium to benzene – which most sources insisted would be lower than last year because of prevailing poor phenol economics, was delayed pending consensus from market participants.

Downstream, US polycarbonate (PC) has been nominated for March increases of 7-8 cents/lb, with producers citing the need to pass on higher upstream costs, particularly for benzene.

As for the upcoming spring paint and coatings season, which taps phenol for resins used in construction, talk of weather-related delays reminiscent of those in 2013 have begun to surface.

Recent severe winter storms have hit the northeast, and there are forecasts of below-normal temperatures and above-normal snowfall this winter across much of the US, which could delay the typical paint build ahead of spring.

By Larry Terry