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 Q1 2021
Supply was constant, with minor disruptions to Asian supply. Asian producers said they are likely to schedule turnarounds for the latter half of 2021, as strong market fundamentals are expected to hold until the third quarter of the year. Some disruptions to supply were seen, however, with shipping delays leading to some volatility in cargo arrivals. Overall, the market saw tight supply with some brands of ABS sold out quickly.
Demand decreased in the Chinese market due to a seasonal lull in sectors such as toy production. In addition, players in the electronics and household appliance sector noted that it was increasingly difficult to accept sustained price increases. However, over in India, demand continues to be supported as the second quarter typically sees bullish demand from the air-conditioning sector, with air-conditioning producers procuring cargoes in preparation.
Europe’s ABS supply shortage worsened in Q1 due to low imports from Asia, production issues (including 50% capacity at Versalis from January to end-April), a force majeure at INEOS since February and force majeures in the upstream ACN and styrene markets. Suppliers sold out of material early each month and buyers struggled to secure volumes. Some had to reduce output towards the end of Q1.
European ABS demand remained strong in Q1, partly due to supply concerns. Strong demand continued from the downstream household sector, in particular appliances, furniture, toys and electronics. Automotive sector demand was stable to good despite a microchip shortage and lower monthly vehicle sales since Q3 2020. Towards the end of Q1, there were expectations about a slowdown in the automotive sector.
Supply was tight in part because of the mid-February winter storm. Both INEOS Styrolution and SABIC shut their Mexico ABS plants for more than a month because of a lack of access to basic utilities. Storm-related styrene plant outages exacerbated production issues. Styrolution and SABIC Innovative Plastics declared force majeure. Lead times for available supply were extended by producers. Transportation disruptions were also a major factor affecting flow of raw materials.
Demand remained robust throughout Q1 for construction materials, recreational vehicles, consumer goods and toys. The lack of ABS supply actually hampered further consumption growth. The market is currently sold out and likely will remain extremely tight well into Q2. Despite several automotive plant shutdowns due to a shortage of microchips, auto sector demand for ABS remained good.
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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.