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 Q3 2017
European methyl methacrylate (MMA) second-quarter contract prices are expected to increase significantly on the back of short global supply. There are growing concerns over supply for the quarter, especially with demand expected to increase. Demand from the coatings sector will continue to pick up as the quarter continues, and demand from the plastics sector is also expected to be robust. The question is whether players will be able to secure enough product to meet demand. Some buyers have been forced to reduce, and in some cases stop production at certain periods this year, due to the lack of available product.
In Asia, limited spot availability is expected to keep MMA prices stable-to-firm during the quarter. Although most regional turnarounds will have been completed by the end of the first quarter and most plants expected to run at full tilt during the second quarter, market participants said spot availability will still be capped because producers need about two to three months more to fully re-build their historically low inventories and fulfil all previously delayed contractual shipments. The tight supply situation will therefore continue to keep prices supported.
US MMA prices are expected to remain firm in Q3 due to supply, with pent-up demand and feedstock costs playing a role. This comes after the market saw significant price increases earlier this year due to scarce supply. The supply situation has improved and is no longer dire, but is still somewhat tight. Demand is expected to increase with the peak paints and coatings season underway.
Supply in the European MMA market is expected to remain short in Q3, although it may improve compared to the extreme constraints in Q2. Global players continue to await the new plant scheduled to come on stream in the Middle East. Demand is expected to remain healthy in Q3, as players try to tackle the backlog of orders after prolonged supply constraints. The traditional summer dip in August is expected to be less pronounced, as players take the opportunity to build up inventories.
In Asia, MMA prices are likely to continue to stay firm for much of Q3 2017, or as long as the ongoing supply constraints fail to ease. The upward momentum is expected to stay intact in Asia as there are no signs that the supply situation will improve soon. Asia is bracing for another wave of heavy maintenance closures in Q3, at a time when regional producers are still grappling with low inventories and a backlog of contractual deliveries.
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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.