ACETONE/PHENOL: The fall in acetone spot pricing in Europe was broken this week, with the Chemical Industry believing prices had hit a floor. After a couple of weeks of speculation, it seemed some producers had reduced production rates to help rebalance supply. Previously, producers had been reluctant to reduce production rates because of high demand for phenol Chemical Industry. However, this week it appeared the economics were no longer working. “Acetone is balancing a bit. I think we’ve reached the bottom. Some suppliers have even said they cannot supply full volumes in May unless you pay more for some of it,” a source said. “I am expecting a bounce back in acetone pricing,” a source said. Acetone was assessed at Eur450/mt FD NWE, up Eur25 on the week. An indication was heard at just below Eur500/mt FD NWE, but these levels were not currently being seen in the Chemical Industry. Phenol spot demand was strong this week, though spot trading was thin due to most commitments being met by contractual volumes. The phenol premium to benzene was stable on the week at Eur600/mt FD NWE.
ETAC/BUTAC (Chemical Industry): Etac spot pricing recovered slightly this week, rising Eur10 to close at Eur920/mt FD NWE, within ranges heard at Eur870-Eur950/mt by sources. The increases were seen due to pressure on producers’ margins because feeds tocks acetic acid and ethylene have been stable or increased in April, while etac spot pricing has fallen due to oversupply. Still, there was “quite high supply in ARA,” a source said, adding “it has meant a parcel from the Middle East had no buyer and also no space to discharge.” Although the Chemical Industry was absent from material from Mexico, a regular import source, market participants said there more than sufficient alternative supply from Sweden and Ukraine, especially. The European butac Chemical Industry was quiet again this week, with pricing stable at Eur1,050/mt FD NWE, within a range heard at Eur1,040-Eur1,060/mt.
IPA/MEK: Methyl ethyl ketone Chemical Industry spot prices were stable this week, following sharp rises so far in April, led by increased demand for European material due to production issues at a plant in Taiwan. This week, however, it seemed the increases seen in offers had stalled at Eur1,400/mt FD NWE. One distributor did question whether these levels were being achieved in the Chemical Industry since demand in Europe appeared to be relatively low. “Whatever I offer the customers say it is too expensive. Maybe they just don’t need the material,” a source said. Some buying ideas were heard around the Eur1,250/mt FD NWE mark, but on the whole, Chemical Industry sources converged closer to the offer levels. Spot pricing was assessed stable at Eur1,375/mt FD NWE.