Weekly Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) reports are published in Asia, China, Europe and the US.
Asia and China cover spot prices for one grade in different regions, while US and Europe report domestic prices for different grades. All contain independent market news and analysis gathered by our locally based reporters. Content includes overviews, production news, upstream information and import movements, when applicable. These reports are an essential tool to help you make confident commercial decisions.
Updated to Q4 2020
Supply increased as traders liquidated cargoes ahead of the new year, particularly for the northeast Asian region. A few producers sold out of spot cargoes for December shipments, but supply increased overall. Supply for India mostly came from domestic producers as many Asian producers stopped offering cargoes into India on shipping concerns.
Demand waned across Asia as freight rates continued to climb, while shipping delays in some regions contributed to weaker demand. Some downstream sectors were not able to accept higher ABS offers in the latter half of the year, and buyers held off on procurement. Poor market sentiment amid falling feedstock prices also dampened buying appetite.
Supply in Q4 2020 tightened significantly throughout the quarter because demand was stronger than expected. In the ongoing absence of imports from Asia, exports to Asia increased. Since turnarounds ended in October, suppliers were unable to build stock, so buyers struggled to secure volumes towards the end of Q4. There have also been coronavirus pandemic-related logistics issues, such as truck drivers having to quarantine and less shipping availability.
Demand in Q4 2020 continued strong across downstream sectors including household appliances, furniture, toys and electronics. This exceeded expectations, and the typical seasonal softening did not occur towards the end of Q4 due to supply shortages, coupled with ongoing activity during coronavirus lockdowns and ahead of the holiday season. Automotive demand was also better than expected, driven by restocking despite car sales dropping in October and November.
Supply was tight in Q4 as the economy rebounded more strongly than expected, especially in the automotive and housing sectors. Producers were unable to supply all of the product that buyers wanted and lead times continued to grow. Imports were limited and expensive because Asian demand was strong. Several styrene plant outages during the quarter contributed to the supply tightness, and raw material costs rose across the board.
Demand was strong amid a rising economy and healthier than expected end-use consumption. Automotive production ramped up for new model vehicles and housing starts and building permits rose. More people moved from urban areas to the suburbs or country and the rise in remote working led to remodeling projects and home expansions. Demand also was good for appliances and durable goods. The demand strength took producers by surprise after an anemic Q2 and Q3.
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Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) is the largest-volume engineering resin. Its biggest use is in the automotive industry, followed by the electronics sector. Other applications include domestic appliances, pipes, fittings and other construction products, and recreational items such as boats and mobile homes.
ABS is also blended with other polymers such as polycarbonate or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) for injection moulding applications.
An amorphous thermoplastic blend, ABS is available in a range of compositions and properties, depending on the ratio of monomer feedstocks (15-35% acrylonitrile, 5-30% butadiene and 40-60% styrene), to give a large number of grades and applications.
Due to its flexibility of composition and structure, ABS can exhibit a wide range of properties, allowing its use in diverse applications. ABS resins are composed of over 50% styrene and varying amounts of butadiene and acrylonitrile (ACN). Styrene provides rigidity and ease of processing, ACN offers chemical resistance and heat stability, and butadiene gives toughness and impact strength.