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Updated to Q2 2019
Acrylic acid and acrylates esters supply in Asia was long amid soft demand, despite several turnarounds in China. Asia continued to see competitively priced Chinese butyl acrylate exports in the second quarter, while regional and the Middle Eastern material was also ample. For glacial acrylic acid and other acrylate grades, although there were few suppliers in Asia, supply was ample as the offtake was slow. A turnaround in northeast Asia from 10 June onwards did not cause any shortage.
Demand was weak in the second quarter, atypical from what was usually a peak demand season. In China, demand slowed down amid the ongoing US-China trade war as well as heightened environmental and safety inspections. Demand in southeast Asia was also curtailed by holidays and elections. In India, oversupply and the presidential election held over April-May curbed import demand. Asian buyers took a cautious approach amid steadily falling prices and largely bought on a need-to basis.
European acrylic acid (AA) and acrylate esters supply was reduced at the start of the quarter, with plant maintenance across the region. Supply remained balanced throughout the stoppages, with producers preparing for the outages in advance. Supply lengthened towards the end of the quarter, once plants restarted in June.
Demand was stronger in the second quarter, which is traditionally the peak consumption period for the market. Warmer temperatures increases consumption from the coatings sector. While demand has firmed, geopolitical tensions continue to dampen confidence in the region.
US acrylic acid supply was steady but broadly outpaced tepid demand. There was some short-term stress on supply at one producer that announced sales controls on its acrylates after other producers’ turnarounds and temporary constraints stemming from a fire late in the first quarter at Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC). Supply was mostly balanced to long for the bulk of the quarter as downstream architectural and automobile coatings continued to slump.
Domestic acrylic acid demand gained some momentum in the second quarter, but remained mostly sluggish as volumes broadly failed to reach seasonal peaks expected during the second-quarter spring paint and coatings season. Although a couple of market participants said their volumes were flat year on year, buying interest was limited largely by weather-related and economic headwinds that diminished seasonal demand for architectural, industrial and automotive coatings, and construction adhesives.
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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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