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 Q3 2020
Supply increased overall for Q3 as major producers ran plants at high operating rates. However, spot supply was extremely tight as suppliers chose to focus on futures contracts instead, with market sentiment weak. When demand rose for ABS spot cargoes, there was a significant shortage in the market. Particular brands of ABS also became very difficult to find in the spot market.
Demand increased significantly in Q3, and was supported by Chinese domestic consumption and manufacturing. China’s imports increased year on year in July and August, driven by the household appliance, toy production, and air-conditioning sectors. Downstream demand from these sectors has been robust due to coronavirus containment measures. Demand from southeast Asia and India was stable despite the pandemic.
Supply was balanced, but tightened towards the end of Q3 on a combination of factors. There was higher demand in July and September, lower imports than typically seen from Asia, and turnarounds in September. However, not all market players have experienced lower availability, with more impact felt when buyers have attempted to source additional volumes.
Demand in Q3 increased across downstream sectors, including furniture, electronics and automotives after lockdowns were lifted in July, although August was seasonally quiet. Non-automotive sectors showed signs of recovery earlier than automotive, but towards the end of Q3 gradual improvement continued across downstream industries. Appliances demand was 20% higher than normal in September, driven by end-consumers making home improvements.
US imports of ABS hit low levels in June and July, which gradually tightened the market. Supply has been long amid tepid demand from the auto sector as the US continues to struggle with recovering from the pandemic. Supply began to tighten late in the quarter on a seasonal demand boost as the engineered plastic is used for making toys and tends to see increased demand in the lead-up to the Christmas holiday.
Demand rose in Q3. The US auto sector, a main consumer of ABS, struggled. Auto demand edged higher, but production levels of new vehicles were low. Auto-sector demand is showing month-on-month improvement but is still behind 2019. Seasonal demand from China, as well as Asian buying to meet consumer demand for appliances and televisions offered support, as did US product sales related to workers and students spending more time at home.
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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.