US July MMA falls 2.5 cents/lb, August contracts pitched higher

28 July 2014 18:06 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US July methyl methacrylate (MMA) free-market contract prices decreased by an average of 2.5 cents/lb ($55/tonne), on weaker June acetone, sources confirmed on Monday.

The decrease moved railcar prices to a new range of 129.50-133.50 cents/lb for July, as assessed by ICIS, although some settlements at rollovers and even deeper reductions from June surfaced during the month.

Downward pressure stemmed principally from barge acetone, which settled lower by 4 cents/lb for June. July barge acetone contracts were still being negotiated early this week, but were trending higher on strengthening refinery-grade propylene (RGP) values.

In the meantime, at least one producer has proposed an increase of 3 cents/lb for its MMA, effective on 1 August, citing supply tightness and stable-to-strong demand and RGP, and another seller was heard likely to propose an August increase.

With input costs rising again, and demand from the coatings sector likely to continue steady or improve during Q3, gains are justified, a seller said.

Regarding supply, recent outages include Thailand’s PTT Asahi Chemical (PTTAC), which has shut down its 70,000 tonne/year MMA plant in Map Ta Phut for a scheduled turnaround that is expected to continue through the end of August.

In China, Jilin Petrochemical Co Ltd is operating its Jilin plant at about 50% of capacity. The plant has two MMA units with a combined nameplate capacity of 200,000 tonnes/year.

And Japan’s Mitsubishi Rayon Co (MRC) plans to take down its 55,000 tonne/year No 1 butane-based MMA line in Otake at the end of this month for a brief turnaround, with maintenance expected to be complete by early August.

In downstream markets, a measure of future US construction activity increased in June for the fourth consecutive month, the last two of which have indicated growth in architectural design services, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) said this week.

The AIA’s Architectural Billings Index (ABI) increased to 53.5 for June, up from 52.6 in May. The index is derived from a monthly survey of AIA-member firms, and reflects a lag of 9-12 months between architecture billings and construction spending.

Major US MMA producers include Lucite, Evonik, Dow Chemical and Arkema.

By Larry Terry