LONDON (ICIS)--European maleic anhydride (MA) market participants on Thursday pointed to higher spot prices for both liquid and flake product.
The higher spot price comes against a background of some supply limitations.
Justifying price increases, producers reported tighter supply, while a planned two-week plant shutdown at a central European producer at the end of May was said to be limiting prompt availability already.
“Availability is tight ahead of shutdowns. [The market] prepares four weeks ahead of shutdown,” said one producer.
In addition, the European market is seeing more limited imports, especially from the US where production problems were understood to be limiting exports. High Asian benzene costs were said to be limiting the availability of Asian material.
“Market tight in Q2… [We see] much less imports from US and in general less imports,” said a second producer.
Demand was said to be seasonally good, with good orders for downstream unsaturated polyester resins (UPR).
However, market participants differ in the extent of the upward movement. Producers are citing increases of up to €100/tonne. The greatest increases were said to be in southern Europe, especially Italy where prices had been lowest.
“Southern Europe - more than €100/tonne increase. North, west and middle Europe [the increases are] around €100/tonne,” said the first producer.
Distributors and traders were a little more guarded in their talk of price increases, with smaller movements of €20-30/tonne widely discussed.
“Spot prices are up but not dramatically… demand is very good, availability ok but have to wait a few days before getting material,” said one distributor.
“MA [has] increased 20-30 [€/tonne],” said a second distributor.
As a result liquid MA is assessed as €1,530-1,620/tonne, an increase of €20-30/tonne. Solid or flake MA is €1,760-1,800/tonne, an increase of €20/tonne.
All prices are assessed on a free-delivered (FD) north-west Europe (NWE) basis.