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              European caustic soda Q4 contract prices settle at rollover, cut: sources

              Fourth-quarter contract price negotiations in the European caustic soda market have concluded at rollover to Eur15/mt price decreases, depending on the region and customer size, market sources said Monday. 

              Most Q4 contracts were settled late last week and the remainder should be finalised by the end of this week, one northwest Europe-based caustic soda producer source said. 

              In Northwest Europe, freely delivered (FD) Q4 contracts largely settled at rollover to slight price decreases from the third quarter, sources said. 

              In Q3, Platts assessed the FD NWE contract price at Eur447-452/mt ($606-613/mt). 

              Initially, several NWE producers had targeted at least Eur50/mt increases for Q4 as they had expected supply to tighten as chlorine operating rates fell. 

              But despite a drop in chlorine production in September, caustic soda stocks have risen for the second consecutive month to 263,731 mt in September, up from 262,451 mt in August, according to the latest figures from industry body Eurochlor. 

              "Our main argument for the price rise in Q4 was that there is still caustic soda availability now, but we expect more restrictions in output in the coming months and that the availability of caustic soda will decrease," the NWE-based producer source said. 

              There was also a fall in exports of caustic soda from Europe in September, which contributed to the rise in stocks. 

              "We see a decrease in exports from Europe from 65,000 mt/month [in July and August] to 50,000 mt/month [in September]. The effect of this is that caustic soda stocks have increased slightly," the NWE-based producer source said. 

              In Scandinavia, there was more downward pressure on Q4 contracts due to increased competition to sell product to larger customers, the producer source said, adding that contracts had settled at decreases of up to Eur15/mt. 

              In the Mediterranean region, some countries such as Spain and Italy settle FD caustic soda contracts on a monthly basis. This month, contract prices have mainly settled at a rollover, one Mediterranean-based producer said. 

              In France, where contracts are largely quarterly based, FD Q4 contracts have settled at rollover to slight decreases, the source said, citing rollover prices at Eur450/mt.

              Published: 2013-10-16 11:33:20

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