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 Q2 2021
Supply increased overall, due to coronavirus resurgences in southern China and a semiconductor chip shortage, which prompted reduced operating rates for some downstream producers. While some continued to be tight on certain ABS grades, spot supply generally improved from Q1. Southern China faced slightly tighter supply of ABS imports due to port congestion.
Demand decreased due to coronavirus lockdowns in southern China, most of southeast Asia, and India. However, robust demand for downstream household and electronic appliances continued in China and India, supporting regional demand. Demand for Asian imports from Europe and the US also decreased amid soaring freight costs and delayed arrival periods. The global semiconductor chip shortage, electricity shortages in China, and historically high prices were also factors.
Supply was severely short across Q2, worsening from multiple production issues including maintenance turnarounds and force majeures in the supply chain, including ABS, ACN and styrene. ABS supply has also been further pressured by the ongoing lack of imports typically seen from Asia, due to less shipping container availability, high freight costs, and lengthy delivery times. On top of a backlog of strong demand, supply has been unable to recover.
Demand remained at a strong level across Q2 2021 for downstream household sectors including appliances, furniture, toys and electronics, mainly driven by supply concerns despite higher feedstock costs. Automotive sector demand has remained at a stable level of demand across Q2 2021, despite low vehicle sales and the microchip shortage which has caused some temporary shutdowns among car manufacturers, but not yet affected the European market on a wider scale.
In May, producer SABIC sent customers a letter informing of delays in securing volumes of ABS because of strong demand and the raw material disruptions initially caused by the mid-February polar storm. The storm impacted supply chains and led to the shutdowns of two Mexico ABS plants, operated by INEOS Styrolution and SABIC, respectively. Supply remained very tight throughout the quarter. Feedstock supply gradually improved.
Demand was strong for automotive, appliances, electronics and toys. Despite the easing of restrictions as the number of people vaccinated for the coronavirus increased, demand partly spawned by the pandemic – appliances for homes and online sales of toys and other goods – did not slow down. Auto demand did not cool off, despite the microchip shortage that has impacted vehicle production, because automakers were building inventories.
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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.