The Methyl methacrylate (MMA) market is covered by our network of ICIS reporters based locally in Asia, Europe and the US on a weekly basis. Our universally trusted, unbiased price assessments cover spot in Asia, contract and spot in Europe and contract in the US.
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Updated to Q1 2021
Supply initially rose as plants restarted from turnarounds. However, the US winter storm saw US suppliers declaring force majeures. Mitsubishi Chemical Methacrylates shut its Beaumont plant officially in end-March. Upstream propylene and acetone supply was very tight in Europe and the US, impacting MMA production. Some cargoes from the Middle East and Asia were diverted to other regions, further tightening supply. Chinese exports increased to fill the supply gap. New capacity from China’s Qixiang Tengda came online.
Demand from the key downstream PMMA sector was subdued but relatively stable. Demand from the transparent ABS market was healthy. Demand from the optical and automotive end-use sectors was also healthy. The paint and emulsion downstream sector came under cost pressure from rising raw material costs. There was demand for Asian cargoes from other regions. India had a healthy appetite for MMA imports.
A tight market for key feedstock acetone coupled with the impact of the US winter storm severely impacted the supply of MMA in Europe. Force majeures in Europe and elsewhere were introduced which further curtailed availability and imports were extremely limited.
Demand was strong in Q1 2021, continuing from the strong demand seen in Q4 2020. Demand from the downstream PMMA sector was healthy. The automotive industry saw high levels demand due to continued restocking and other end-use sectors, such as construction and lighting, also saw healthy buying interest.
Heavy outage activity and a feedstock acetone crunch created a supply gap in Q1. There was heavy interest for prompt material, with both contract and spot availability challenged. Fewer exports flowed from the US to Europe, while some overseas material flowed into the US amid high netbacks. Imports that were internal transfers also took place and are expected to increase in the months ahead.
Demand outpaced supply, with supply security taking on high priority. Spot material was scarce and was snapped up rapidly in some cases, despite offer levels that kept climbing. The winter storm did impact auto production due to the shortage of chemicals. Other end-users also curtailed production due to the lack of one or more raw materials.
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Methyl Methacrylate (MMA) is polymerised to form PMMA (also known as plexiglass), lubricant viscosity modifiers, emulsions, dispersions and coatings.
Methyl methacrylate (MMA) is a colourless, volatile, flammable liquid with an ester-like odour. It is slightly soluble in water but soluble in most organic solvents. It is readily polymerised by light, heat, ionising radiation and catalysts. Commercial products may contain hydroquinone methyl ether or similar polymerisation inhibitors.
Nearly all MMA is polymerised to make homopolymers and copolymers, the largest application being the casting, moulding or extrusion of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) or modified polymers.
A major application of MMA polymers and copolymers is in surface coatings and impregnation resins to give colour fastness and weather-resistance properties to latex paints, lacquer resins and stoving enamels. For example, exterior latex paint is based on emulsions containing MMA while other uses include industrial finishes, and metal and foil coatings.
Safeguard your future with the opportunity to discuss your expectations and learn from industry experts at The ICIS 2020 World Phenol-Acetone Conference, a biennial event in the calendar of professionals across the globe. You can get face-to-face time with existing suppliers or explore new business opportunities to initiate future connections.
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