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Updated to Q3 2019
Supply in Asia was reduced on turnarounds in China in July and August, typically seen during summer. Firmer domestic China prices made it unattractive for Chinese suppliers to export materials, as Asian spot prices were subdued. One northeast Asia producer had a turnaround at its acrylic/acrylate plants but the restart encountered some issues. A southeast Asian acrylic acid plant also had a turnaround. However, a reduced supply was offset by weak demand and there was no tight supply observed.
Demand in Asia remained slow in Q3, dragged down by a slowdown in global economy and escalating US-China trade war. Summer is also a typical lull season for manufacturing of downstream paint and coating, adhesive and hygiene products. End-users bought on a need-to basis and importers’ inventory was digested at a slow rate. In India, the monsoon season reduced demand. India’s demand improved for September cargoes but was deemed softer than expectation.
European acrylic acid (AA) supply increased throughout Q3, linked to local production running well and higher imports. There was some maintenance towards the end of the quarter for Arkema, but the market remained very well supplied.
Demand was weak throughout the quarter, with consumption traditionally lower in August during the European holiday period. Demand remained low in September, and there was limited activity on the spot market.
Supply of US acrylic acid, which is used as an intermediate in the production of paint, coatings and adhesives, largely outpaced demand during much of the third quarter of 2019, although there was a small uptick in buying interest at the outset of the period. The 2019 hurricane season continues through November, but it has not been highly interruptive to domestic acrylic-acid production, so far. Pricing was mostly stable to weaker during the quarter, tracking upstream propylene.
Buying interest for US acrylic acid diminished during the waning days of a delayed and below-average downstream architectural and automobile coatings season. Buying interest continued to soften on the economic and weather-related headwinds that opened 2019. Those factors and the market’s inability to catch completely up with year-ago volumes stretched acrylic acid inventories. Although Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas, the season has not yet been interruptive to US acrylic acid production.
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Acrylic Acid and Acrylate Esters in Europe are covered under separate entries. These products are combined in the regional reports published in Asia and the United States. Please see separate entries for information on the European market.
Acrylate esters are colourless liquids with acrid odours, and are traded as technical grade (99% purity). Methyl acrylate and ethyl acrylate are toxic enough to require a hazardous shipping label, while butyl acrylate and 2-ethylhexyl acrylate (2EHA) are considered safe.
Acrylate esters are used in the manufacture of surface coatings/paints and resins, adhesives and plastics, dispersions and in some cases paper.
They are readily polymerised if exposed in water, to form a latex (a dispersion of solid particles in water) such as latex paints.
An associated product is methyl methacrylate. Acrylate esters are made from the reaction of an alcohol to an acid such as acrylic acid. This process is called esterification.
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