NEW YORK -- Hoechst Celanese Corp. said Thursday it was increasing prices on polyester staple fiber for apparel, home fashions, nonwovens and high-loft fiberfill applications by 8 to 10 percent, effective with shipments of Jan. 2.

A company spokeswoman said the increases were due to worldwide pricing trends and strong global demand for polyester staple.

This is the second time in four months the company has raised prices on polyester staple. In August, Hoechst increased prices by up to 15 percent.

Hoechst's parent, Hoechst Group, Frankfurt, Germany, reported substantially improved pretax profits in the third quarter and in the nine months, bolstered by widespread economic recovery and cost-cutting efforts.

Its fiber sales rose 8 percent in the nine months, to $3.4 billion (5.3 billion marks). Hoechst said business with technical fibers and polyester bottle polymers "progressed favorably" in the U.S., and the positive effects of rationalization started to be felt in the difficult European textiles market. Hoechst said volume has been accelerating since mid-year, particularly in fibers, as well as in chemicals and technical polymers.

Overall, Hoechst's pretax profits in the quarter surged to $387.2 million (605 million marks) from 143 million marks a year earlier. Sales increased 8 percent to $7.4 billion (11.7 billion marks).

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