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Updated to Q4 2019
Asia-Pacific bisphenol A (BPA) supply was broadly balanced, following regional producers keeping overall plant operating rates at lowered levels. This culminated from high upstream raw material phenol costs cutting into margins during the fourth quarter. Plant turnarounds towards the later part of the fourth quarter served to curtail production, keeping spot BPA supply in check, while regional producers shifted focus towards term talks towards the year end.
Soft demand for BPA in downstream sectors generated downwards pressure on import prices and Chinese domestic markets during most of the fourth quarter. Uncertainty about the prolonged US-China trade dispute dampened buying sentiment. However, a potential phase-1 agreement towards the end of the quarter and improved buying to replenish inventories ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday that takes place in late-January 2020 helped to cushion the market towards the end of the fourth quarter.
Domestic bisphenol-A (BPA) supply in Europe was good in the fourth quarter, amid reduced activity. Lower Asian imports towards the end of the quarter limited supply flexibility which led to increased prompt requirements from domestic players. However, the lower Asian imports were moderated by the quieter year-end period.
Underlying BPA demand in Europe slowed during the fourth quarter as the auto industry continued on its downturn and amid the low construction season. December was also a shorter working month. However, lower Asian imports meant unexpected demand for some domestic players.
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