HOUSTON (ICIS)--US March contracts for molten and flake phthalic anhydride (PA) settled higher on Tuesday, tracking February increases for feedstock orthoxylene (OX).
March contracts for molten PA settled at 57-62 cents/lb ($1,257-1,367/tonne), while contracts for flake PA settled at 58-65 cents/lb, up by 3.5 cents/lb from February. PA contracts are adjusted in accordance with OX contract movement in the prior month, per ICIS methodology.
The February OX increase tracked rising prices in the market for feedstock mixed xylenes (MX). The MX market has been pressured up by tight supply and strong demand.
PA supply is balanced with steady demand in the US, and stable market conditions are expected in the near term.
More than half of PA production goes into the production of phthalate plasticizers, primarily dioctyl phthalate (DOP), which is used in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and di-isononyl phthalate (DINP). The second-largest outlet is unsaturated polyester resins (UPR), which are typically blended with glass fibres to produce fibreglass-reinforced plastics. The third-largest outlet is alkyd resins, which are used in solvent-based coatings.
Stepan and Koppers are the two US PA producers who sell to the market, while ExxonMobil produces PA for captive use.