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US butadiene market split again in December

December 02/2011

(ICIS) -- The US butadiene (BD) market split again in December, market sources said on Thursday, adding that one producer refused to fully match the reduction of its three rival suppliers. The split settlement, which put December contracts at 98 cents/lb ($2,161/tonne, ?1,599/tonne) and $1/lb, followed proposed reductions of 10, 15 and 17 cents/lb by the four main US producers. The three producers settling at 98 cents/lb account for around 85% of the US BD capacity, which translates into a weighted average price of 98.3 cents/lb for the month. 

BD contracts in November settled at $1.15/lb, down by 25 cents/lb from October. The reduction in December Ц the fourth in as many months Ц extends a downtrend that began in September, when prices began to soften on the back of weaker demand and ample supply. US BD prices have dropped by 44% during the last four months, mirroring sharp losses seen in other regions.

BD spot prices in Asia have regained some strength, but demand in the US is expected to remain soft in December, pressured by de-stocking ahead of the end of the year. However, the outlook for 2012 points to a possible rebound, a US producer said recently, citing capacity expansions in the tyre sector and a series of cracker turnarounds scheduled for the first half of the year.

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