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Updated to Q2 2020
Operating rates in China were low, due to turnarounds. Domestic China prices were supported by firm feedstock costs. With domestic sales providing better netbacks, Chinese suppliers became inactive in exporting to Asia. There was, however, no shortage of material, as regional producers operated at normal rates amid weak demand. Some regional producers turned to exporting into China, as demand and netback were better than southeast Asia.
Demand dwindled with many Asian markets under lockdown. Downstream plants were either shut or operated at low rates. The construction and automotive industries took a hit. China’s recovery from the coronavirus outbreak started ahead of other regions, and as restrictions gradually lifted in southeast Asia, end-consumption remained slow. Some downstream plants resumed production but maintained low run rates. India saw improved demand after the country eased lockdowns in June.
Supply lengthened throughout Q2. Producers reduced operating rates to try to deal with the oversupply, but this did not fully ease the excess.
Demand fell as coronavirus restrictions increased, impacting the key paints and coatings sector. SAP demand was high at the start of the lockdowns, with many consumers stockpiling nappies. Consumption fell later in the quarter.
Supply was steady, with supply mostly balanced to somewhat outpacing demand. Buying interest remained diminished as coronavirus restrictions were still largely in place or beginning to ease. Acrylic acid volume was mostly tapped by, and remained readily available to, coatings makers who supplied the robust DIY sector and companies making packaging adhesives. Pricing generally tracked propylene flat to lower during the period.
Demand from medical and packaging adhesives was steady and healthy during most of Q2, but it softened in June as the US economy began to reopen after stay-at-home restrictions were lifted. Especially robust was demand from superabsorbent polymers found in diapers, and demand from the DIY paint sector. Automobile-manufacturing and construction markets saw only a slow uptick as some acrylic acid customer destocking continued.
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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.