A MARKET UPDATE for March 2010

Events:

October 2-6, 2010 EPCA Budapest, Hungary
October 27-29, 2010 IFAI EXPO Americas
October 27 – Nov. 3 K Show Düsseldorf, Germany

Downloadable Brochure

click here to download/view

New/ Updated Technical Information:

NatureFlexx 509 Phthalate Free Plasticizer
https://thechemco.com/chemicals/ATBC-Nature-Flexx-509

Malic Acid
https://thechemco.com/chemicals/Malic-Acid

ChemFlexx DiOctyl Adipate
https://thechemco.com/chemicals/Chemflexx-DOA

Methanol
https://thechemco.com/chemicals/Methanol

ChemFlexx 206 Linear Phthalate Plasticizer
https://thechemco.com/chemicals/Chemflexx-206

New Products:

NP500 Non- Phthalate Plasticizer Non-phthalate plasticizer to replace general purpose phthalate plasticizers like DOP, DOTP and DINP. Drums, Totes and Bulk Available.
Spec: ChemFlexx NP500

NP600 Non- Phthalate Plasticizer Non-phthalate plasticizer to replace the general purpose phthalate plasticizers DIDP. Drums, Totes and Bulk Available.
Spec: ChemFlexx NP600

NatureFlexx 509 100% Phthalate Free General Purpose Plasticizer! This high molecular weight plasticizer is an excellent, phthalate free replacement for general purpose phthalate plasticizers like DINP, DOP, DOTP, Etc. Drums, Totes and Bulk Available.
Spec: NatureFlexx 509

Malic Acid A suttle and persistent sour in food applications as well as an excellent acidulant. New technical applications are being discovered as well. Food and Technical Grade material is in stock and immediately available. Packaging is 25 Kg. Bags, 2,000 lb. Supersacks and a 50% solution.
Spec: DL Malic Acid

FOOD ADDITIVE PRODUCT LINE

Food Grade Acids:
Ascorbic Acid
Citric Acid (fine, granular)
Fumaric Acid (CWS, granular)
Malic Acid (DL, L, D)
Folic Acid
Succinic acid
P-Anisic Acid
P-Toluene Sulfonic Acid
Picolinic Acid
Lactic Acid & salts
Citrazinic Acid
Tartaric Acid (Granular & Powder)
Difluorophenylboronic Acid
Squaric Acid
Etc.

Food Preserving Agents:
Methyl Paraben, NF
Propyl Paraben, NF
Sodium Benzoate
Potassium Benzoate
Potassium Sorbate
Benzoic Acid
Butylated Hydroxy Toluene
EDTA (Disodium, Etc)
Sodium Erythorbate
Erythorbic acid
Sorbic Acid
Etc.

Others:
Caffeine Anhydrous USP
Glycine
L-glutamine
Casein
Methyl Salicylate
Taurine
Sucralose
Gums (Xanthan, Guar, Etc.)
Aspartame
Xylitol
Vitamins (B1, B2, Etc.)
Phosphates (dipotassium, tricalcium etc.)
Creatine Compounds (monohydrate,
citrate. Etc.)
Specialty food grade oils

Samples and tech data available upon request.

Please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com or Tel: (401) 423- 3100 for more information.

We appreciate your taking the time to review this newsletter. We welcome your comments as well as contributions regarding our readers’ company/industry activities. Please send them to Bob Beavins at chemcobob@comcast.net

Critical Raw Materials Markets

At the end of each paragraph you will notice a symbol and the meaning of these symbols are as follows:

+ Denotes upward pricing momentum
\ Denotes stable pricing momentum
– Denotes downward pricing momentum

Oil Current spot prices in the $86 – 87/ bbl range; futures at $80/bbl. +

Natural Gas Current spot pricing ~ $4.128/MMBtu. April futures decreased to $3.87/MMBtu. Inventories are 8.0% above the five year average. +

Benzene US April Benzene contract increased by US$.05/ gallon in March to US$3.48/ Gallon. January was US$3.55/ gal. and February was US$3.69/ gal. Spot prices have moderated higher from the $3.30- $3.35/ gallon level and are currently at $3.48- $3.50/ gallon. +

Propylene April US contract prices were increased $.07/lb bringing chemical grade and polymer grade to $.74/lb and $.755/lb respectively. + +

Orthoxylene April contracts have not yet settled but indications are a roll to a $.02/lb. increase. March rolled from February at $0.47/lb. \ +

Chemicals Markets

Methanol: The Methanex Non-Discounted Reference Price for April will remain at US$1.10/ gallon. Spot barge offers are currently in the $.86- $.87/ gallon range and flat. / –

Notes:
All geographies world wide are seeing less demand hence lower prices.

Methanex confirms that their Punta Arenas, Chile methanol plants have not been affected by the numerous and large afterschocks.

The Leuna Methanol Plant in Germany remains down and is expected to restart in late April.

Seasonal Methanol Demand (down hole and windshield wash has waned. Derivatives (Acetic Acid and Formaldehyde) continue to improve.

New production globally is expected to affect the methanol market by the end of the second quarter. Spot prices should move lower, eventually pushing contract lower as well. Pricing should remain steady until then.

Urea: Urea prices are in the US$295- $305/ ton range and steady. /

Notes:

  • Urea prices are under pressure but good weather conditions across the country are expected to inspire buying post Easter Holiday.
  • Global prices softening.
  • Seasonal demand is just starting.
  • Urea demand for Diesel Exhaust Fluid is expcted to significantly increase over the next two years.
  • Terra has picked CF over Yara. This deal could be complete by press time.

Adipic Acid: Adipic Acid pricing remains under pressure worldwide due to planned and unplanned outages. Availability remains a critical issue with the vast majority of NA production down along with planned and unplanned outages in both Asia and Europe. Asian demand has re-emerged and despite the large import duties product is on the water. We expect availability issues to remain and possibly get worse aver the coming months. ++

Melamine: Melamine pricing has leveled on better availability from China and moderating urea prices. / +

Phenolic Resins: Prices have firmed with increased Phenol pricing. A limited number of players has resulted in few options for consumers and many have opted to seek toll manufacturing opportunities. +

Ammonium Nitrate: Low density AN prices are currently stable. Demand on both low and high density has softened due to a lack of mining and cheaper alternatives for fertilization. /

Ammonia: Current U.S. NOLA barge pricing is reported at US$420/ton down slightly and expected to continue to slide. Tampa settled with customers at US$415/ ton delivered for April business.

Nitric Acid: Nitric Acid pricing is stable at the moment. Demand is flat. Pricing is expected to remain stable through Q2, 2010. /

Plasticizers and Plasticizer Alcohols:

Plasticizer and Plasticizer Alcohol pricing continue to push higher on feedstock pressure and supply interruptiuons. Increases have been announced for April 1, April 15th and a May 1st increase is expected. Recent plant issues in all geographies has made a tight situation extremely critical. ++

TCC Plasticizers available:

Non- Phthalate:

  • “ChemFlexx NP 500” Non- Phthalate Replacement for General Purpose Plasticizers
  • “ChemFlexx NP 600” Non- Phthalate Replacement for DIDP
  • “NatureFlexx 509” Phthalate Free General Purpose
  • Epoxidized Soybean Oil
  • TOTM (TriOtcyl Trimellitate)
  • DOA (DiOctyl Adipate)
  • 8 10 Trimellitate

Phthalate:

  • DINP (DiIsononyl Phthalate)
  • “ChemFlexx 206” Linear Phthalate Plasticizer
  • “ChemFlexx 208” Low Temp Linear Phthalate Plasticizer
  • DOP (DiOctyl Phthalate)
  • DUP (DiUndecyl Phthalate)
  • DMP (DiMethyl Phthalate)
  • Brominated DOP
  • 9 11 Phthalate

Epoxidized Soybean Oil: Despite the USDA reporting high crop yields for soybeans we have yet to see signs of lower pricing. Overall fundamentals have not changed from the 2nd half of 2009. Pricing is stable and demand is good. /

Antimony Trioxide: Prices are moving higher and in/ near record territory. Demand and availability are the driver to this latest round of increases. ++

Dicyandiamide: Prices are flat and availability is good. Demand is good as the NA economy struggles to recover. /

Fumaric Acid: Fumaric Acid has become relatively snug and prices are moving up despite lower butane values. Global values have also increased as demand improved and raw material costs move up. / +

Malic Acid: Global values have improved with demand and increased raw material cost. Non- food/Technical applications are being re-looked at as other acid values remain inflated (eg. Citric). / +

Isophthalic Acid: Prices have increased in line with underlying raw material costs. Demand has also improved in most major markets. +

Maleic Anhydride: Demand has improved slightly (although NA supply and demand remains completely imbalanced) and prices have moved up but not at the levels announced. Rationalization of US plants is expected. The briquette market has surged as European rationalization and limited availability has created a supply and demand imbalance. /

Styrene monomer: Benzene values have moved up slightly and so has SM pricing. Pricing has increased approx $.01/ lb. in April. +

Phthalic Anhydride: Orthoxylene pricing will determine pricing for April. We expect a roll or a small increase. Demand is improving in North America. /

Mono Ethylene Glycol: MMEG pricing has continues to move up but the arbitrage to Europe has closed. A $.02/ lb. increase has been announced for April. Benchmarks range from $.55- $.58/ lb. fob Gulf. +

Diethylene Glycol/ Triethylene Glycol: DEG inventories are near zero as exports wipe out available inventories. US producers announce a US$.06- $.09/ lb. increase for March. Benchmarks are US$.55- $.58/ lb. fob Gulf. Triethylene Glycol producers also announce a $.06- $.09/ lb. Increase for March. Benchmarks are at $.82- $.86/ lb. fob Gulf. +

For more information on these or any of the products and services provided by TCC please contact Robb Roach directly at Robb@thechemco.com or go to our web site at thechemco.com

Chemical Industry News

In January, total employment in the US chemical industry dropped 5.9% to 791,500 from 840,800 as reported by the American Chemistry Council. It was stated that the commodities sector was hardest hit.

The European Union is working with industry to try to prevent a large number of chemical companies missing the next REACH deadline, which could cause certain products to be removed from the market. High production volume chemicals of 1,000 MT or more have to be registered by December 1 of this year.

US chemical industry officials have urged support for revision and modernization of the existing Toxic Substances Control Act but not in the form of the EU’s REACH.

Eastman Chemical will acquire Genovique Specialties from Arsenal Capital Partners for an undisclosed sum. This will add benzoates and other non-phthalate plasticizers to their product line.

DowAgroSciences is planning to invest $340 million in an expansion of its research operations in Indiana. The project is expected to add more than 550 workers to the operation.

Dow has agreed to sell its Styron business to Bain Capital for $1.63 billion in cash and approximately $400 million in supply and purchase agreements.

The first commercial scale facility to produce Mirel bioplastics resin opened in March in Clinton, Iowa and it’s expected that the first shipment of the biodegradable resin will be made in April. The plant is a joint venture of Archer Daniels Midland and Metabolix and full capacity of 110 million pounds of corn sugar based resin is expected to be reached this summer.

Len Blavatnik, who led the leveraged buyout creating LyondellBasell will seek a stake of up to 15% in the company when it exits from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Access Industries, his holding company, will commit as much as $800 million to the venture. LyondellBasell recently rejected a takeover bid of $14.5 billion from India’s Reliance Industries, Ltd.

Bayer MaterialScience plans to invest €150 million in a new 300,000 MT/year TDI plant at its Chempark site in Dormagen, Germany. It is expected to come on stream in 2014.

Zytel Plus, a new nylon product line, has been introduced by DuPont. It could lead to the increased use of plastics in higher temperature automotive components.

Terra Industries terminated its agreement for its merger with fertilizer firm Yara International of Norway for $4.1 billion. CF Industries and Terra have now concluded a definite $4.7 billion merger agreement after Yara declined to improve its earlier bid. Agrium dropped its takeover offer for CF Industries.

The Bank of Canada announced that beginning in 2011 it will begin printing Canadian currency on a polymer material instead of traditional paper notes. The new material is expected to last longer than the cotton based paper currently in use.

The EPA has identified the next chemicals, including diisocyantes, for which it will develop chemical action plans by late spring. The action plans for bisphenol A and benzidine are being finalized. The action plans outline the concerns that each chemical may present and identify specific steps that the EPA intends to take in order to address them.

The EPA has begun a two year $1.9 million study into the environmental implications of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a method of extracting natural gas from shale rock formations. It has been reported that shale rock gas volumes throughout the US are huge and represent 100 years of supply. The latest draft of the climate and energy bill being written by Senators Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman reportedly includes language saying that the EPA would not regulate the technique.

Various states and business organizations, through the use of petitions and lawsuits, are attempting to keep the EPA from proceeding with its very costly plans to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions including CO2. Governors of 18 states and two territories who urged Congress to stop the EPA from regulating GHG emissions said that the agency is not equipped to deal with the economic fallout of regulations. On March 18, twelve or more states sued the EPA in the US Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, DC.

West Virginia Democrat Senator Rockefeller has proposed legislation that would delay for two years the EPA from regulating stationary sources of GHG. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has come out in support of the bill, stating that it shows increasing resistance to the EPA’s “back door climate regulations.”

The discussions around the use of Bisphenol A (BPA) have continued:
The governor of Washington recently signed a bill that bans BPA in the manufacture and sale of food and drink containers marketed for children younger than three, as well as sports water bottles for adults. The ACC said that “it is important to allow the federal government’s regulatory authorities to make the science-based decision, and not to create patchwork state restrictions when it comes to consumer products.”
After reviewing recently published scientific information, the French Food Agency did not recommend any immediate action to restrict the chemical.
The Society of Toxicology’s journal published a commentary in March that stated that newest research indicates that BPA is not an environmental hazard to humans.

Faced with a number of commercial disputes with the EU and the US, China is organizing the Office of China Representative, a new agency, to help to streamline its trade bureaucracy. It has been reported that it will replace a myriad of Chinese trade offices.

The US Department of Agriculture forecasts that ethanol demand will remain strong for an extended period. As a result, corn demand and corn prices will remain high.

Singapore’s petrochemical production in the fourth quarter of 2009 rose 38.8% over a year earlier. For the whole of 2009, chemical production fell by 8.8%.

Russia recently concluded contracts securing oil exploration rights in Cuban waters in the Gulf of Mexico. A Russian-Cuban partnership will exploit oil found in the area. The US government has announced no plans to explore the outer continental shelf, although such action has been approved. Governor McDonnell of Virginia recently signed into law a bill which supports offshore drilling and which depends on federal sale of oil and gas leases off the Virginia coast.

A group of 56 members of Congress sent a letter to US Trade Rep. Ron Kirk and Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood requesting that the US-Mexico cross-border stalemate be addressed and resolved. The pilot program was eliminated in March, 2009 as part of a Congressional appropriations act. Soon after it was eliminated, the Mexican government placed tariffs costing ~ $2.4 billion on about 90 American agricultural products. The administration has promised corrective action for about a year. The US Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers and other groups have charged the administration and Congress with “inaction at the expense of US jobs.”

Reflecting greater business activity, on March 18, FedEx announced that net income for its fiscal third quarter of $239 million had increased 146% over last year’s $97 million.

Norfolk Southern Railway agreed to pay a civil penalty of $4 million related to a 2005 derailment and chlorine spill that killed nine people in South Carolina.

Maersk, the world’s largest ocean cargo carrier, reported a net loss of $1.29 billion for 2009 and continued rate increases are expected.

The Economy

The US government ran up the largest monthly deficit in history in February, reporting a total of $220.9 billion, 14% higher than the previous record set in February, 2009. The deficit through the first five months of the budget year totals $651.6 billion, 10.5% over a year earlier.

The Conference Board’s index of Leading Economic Indicators increased 0.1% in February following a 0.3% gain in December and 1.2% in December. The Conference Board noted that the LEI increased for almost a year, which points to moderately improving economic conditions in the near term. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had increased in December and January, declined sharply from 56.5 to 46.0 in February, the lowest number in 27 years.

The Institute for Supply Management’s Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI) rose in February, reflecting growth for the third consecutive month.

In February, retail and food services sales adjusted for seasonal variations increased 0.3% from January and were 3.9% above a year earlier. Total sales for the December 2009 – February 2010 period were up 4.5% from a year earlier. Gasoline station sales were up 24.0% from February 2009. The National Retail Federation expects 2010 retail sales, excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants to increase by 2.5% over 2009.

Privately owned housing starts in February of 575.000 were 5.9% below the revised estimate for January of 611,000 but are 0.2% above the February 2009 rate of 574,000. Single family housing starts in February were at a rate of 499,000 or 0.6% below the revised January figure of 502,000.

New orders for manufactured durable goods in February increased $0.9 billion or 0.5% to $178.1 billion. This was the third consecutive monthly increase and followed a 3.9% January increase. After a January decrease of 0.1% shipments of manufactured durable goods in February decreased .6% or $1.0 billion to $179.8 billion. February unfilled orders for manufactured durable goods increased $2.0 billion or .4% to $722.1 billion and followed a January increase of 0.2%.

Consumer Price Index was unchanged in February. The index has increased 2.1% over the last 12 months, not including seasonal adjustments.

Interest rate: Prime at 3.25% as of 12/16/08 and expected to remain the same well into 2010.

Inflation: Annual inflation rate 2.1% for February.

Unemployment: February 9.7% and expected to average 9.8% this year after peaking at 10.2%.

Trade Deficit: For January 2010 the goods and services deficit decreased to $37.3 billion from an adjusted $39.9 billion in December as imports decreased more than exports.

Crude Oil: Currently trading at ~$80/bbl, with little change in short term forecasts. At its March conference OPEC members agreed that although world demand is expected to increase slightly during 2010 this increase will be offset by non-OPEC producers. It was decided to maintain current production levels.

Natural Gas Supplies are more than adequate for short-term demand.

Coal Northern Appalachian coal prices increased from ~$50/ton in December to ~$64 in March because the unusually cold winter in parts of the US increased demand from electric power generators.

Industrial production increased 0.1 % in February after a 0.9% January increase. Capacity utilization rate for total industry in February was 72.7%, up from 72.5% in January, a level 7.9% below the 1972 – 2009 average.

Further revised estimates issued by the Bureau of Economic Analysis show a Gross Domestic Product gain of 5.6% in the fourth quarter of 2009, rather than the 5.9% reported earlier. This compares to an increase of 2.2% in the third quarter.

The US dollar trading at 92.15 yen. $1.34 = euro. The British pound sterling = $1.49.

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