Subscriber note: ICIS will publish the last weekly acetone (US Gulf) report for 2012 on 21 December. The next report will be published on 8 January 2013. For more details on the publishing schedule, please visit www.icispricing.com.
US December truck acetone gains 7.7%
US December truck acetone prices increased by 7.7% during the week ended 14 December.
Sources said price-increase initiatives of 5-6 cents/lb ($110-132/tonne, €84-101/tonne) were mostly successful.
Producers and distributors said the main reason for the nominations sticking was tight supply.
Operating rates remain low, as co-product phenol demand is weak, especially for exports, and acetone margins are not enough to offset it.
Producers and distributors agreed that prices are largely within the ICIS range for December, and expect January to hold firm at worst.
There was some talk that January prices could fall, as a large acetone buyer is cutting back on its orders.
However, most truck acetone sources said they expect the extra material will be moved from the barge to the truck market, and producers will hold to the truck price.
December barge contract negotiations are ongoing, sources said, and could settle before Christmas.
Sources were mixed on where the settlement is likely to end up. One producer said it thinks prices need to increase by 1-2 cents/lb over what feedstock refinery-grade propylene (RGP) prices do.
Other producers said they think barge contract prices should increase by 5 cents/lb because supply remains tight and importing material is not an option.
Spot acetone steady on tight supply
US spot prices for acetone were steady, with tight supply preventing trading and feedstock costs steady.
Traders said they expect that spot parcels of acetone will mostly be moved to the US distribution market, as overseas prices are not workable at the moment.
Chinese acetone prices gained $10-15/tonne during the week on tight supply and firm feedstock costs.
Spot prices on Chinese acetone remain unattractive to US buyers, and supply is tight because of low operating rates.
US benzene spot prices gained 5-14 cents/gal during the week, mostly on tight supply.
Sources said that the continued increase in spot benzene is leading to concerns about business in January, as there were hopes the market would fall on weaker demand.
US RGP prices gained 0.5 cents/lb during the week, but trading was thin as the year ended and available supply was limited.
US propylene contracts for December gained 1 cent/lb, tracking tighter supply from cracker outages as well as trading sentiment.
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