The Methyl methacrylate (MMA) market is covered by our network of ICIS reporters based locally in Asia, Europe and the US on a weekly basis. Our universally trusted, unbiased price assessments cover spot in Asia, contract and spot in Europe and contract in the US.
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Methyl methacrylate: Market overview
Updated to Q4 2017
Methyl methacrylate (MMA) supply is expected to grow in Q4, when a new 250,000 tonne/year plant in Saudi Arabia offers fresh spot volumes in Asia. However, some participants were of the view that such volumes are likely to impact the market only towards the end of Q4, given that some production troubles at the facility were heard in late Q3. Producers affected by plant maintenance and unforeseen disruptions would have gained some time to replenish inventory levels too, sources said.
Demand for methyl methacrylate (MMA) in Asia is likely to hold steady in Q4, until buyers become more certain about when regional spot supply will increase significantly. This is in view of fresh spot volumes coming from Saudi Arabia, possibly later in the quarter, sources said. Most buyers were of the view that spot prices will reach a peak and soften, and are therefore likely to make purchases on a need-to basis for the time being.
European methyle methacrylate (MMA) supply constraints have reached a peak, with players seeing October as the tightest month year to date. There are planned and unplanned plant stoppages in the market, which has been under-supplied for over a year. There continues to be a backlog in orders, low industry inventories, and buyers at times unable to obtain enough product for production.
Methyl methacrylate (MMA) demand remains at a very high and steady level, which is being magnified because of the supply problems. There was an increase in spot activity in October, because of the Lucite International force majeure and little activity in September. Players are expecting little easing to the market supply and demand balance for the rest of 2017.
Supply will remain tight for a part of Q4 due to turnaround activity. Supply levels should normalise for the rest of the quarter after that. Also, slower demand during the off-peak season will remove some supply pressure.
For a part of Q4, demand will be strong for the limited amount of material on hand during the turnarounds. But overall, demand will decrease through the quarter as it will be the off-peak season for certain downstream markets.
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Methyl Methacrylate Methodology
About Methyl methacrylate
Methyl methacrylate (MMA) is a colourless, volatile, flammable liquid with an ester-like odour. It is slightly soluble in water but soluble in most organic solvents. It is readily polymerised by light, heat, ionising radiation and catalysts. Commercial products may contain hydroquinone methyl ether or similar polymerisation inhibitors.
Nearly all MMA is polymerised to make homopolymers and copolymers, the largest application being the casting, moulding or extrusion of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) or modified polymers.
A major application of MMA polymers and copolymers is in surface coatings and impregnation resins to give colour fastness and weather-resistance properties to latex paints, lacquer resins and stoving enamels. For example, exterior latex paint is based on emulsions containing MMA while other uses include industrial finishes, and metal and foil coatings.