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Updated to Q4 2019
Like the previous quarter, supply for dioctyl phthalate (DOP) was low in the final quarter of 2019 amid lower plant operating rates. Producers were facing negative margins and many were content to sell smaller lots. Dioctyl terephthalate (DOTP) supply was stable in the quarter with producers in northeast Asia largely running at full capacity for a large part of the quarter. Diisononyl phthalate (DINP) supply was also generally stable with producers running at full tilt.
Demand for diisononyl phthalate (DINP) was generally stable but fell slightly near the end of the year as buyers were away for the holidays. Demand was also typically low as buyers were not willing to keep high inventories. Dioctyl phthalate (DOP) demand was stable in the Chinese import market, but offers were limited as many producers deemed prices as too low, representing losses for them.
Plasticizers supply remained healthy in the fourth quarter, with a variety of offers of imported material for dioctyl terephthalate (DOTP) from Russia, Korea, Turkey and the US as sources sought to secure or maintain market share. There were also imports of Korean diisononyl phthalate (DINP), but towards the end of Q4, these lessened. There is more than ample supply for these two grades and also for di-propyl heptyl phthalate (DPHP).
Demand into the construction sector has been quite supportive compared with the likes of the automotive industry. For most though Q4 demand was flat to disappointing as customers ran stocks low to year end a little earlier than usual. There were various end-users that shut units over the Christmas period.
US Q4 2019 supply of dioctyl phthalate (DOP), dioctyl terephthalate (DOTP) and di-isononyl phthalate (DINP) continued to outpace demand on waning seasonal and year-end buying interest. Customers continued to have difficulty finding available space to store even lower-priced material. Along with seasonally weak demand during most of the period and a largely downward trajectory in precursor 2-ethylhexanol (2-EH), DINP and DOTP pricing also trended lower, bring plasticizers pricing into rare parity for some market participants.
US Q4 2019 buying interest for DOP, DOTP and DINP broadly weakened during the waning months of the year. Fourth-quarter prices were flat to lower on some competitive pressure among producers seeking to move additional year-end volumes. As usual, the major Q4 Christmas, New Year’s and US Thanksgiving holidays limited the number of business days during the quarter, significantly curtailing demand.
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Plasticizers are chemical compounds or additives that are added to polymer material to alter the physical properties to achieve certain characteristics such as flexibility and durability. These are applied in various types of products in every industry from synthetic fabrics to plastics packaging and automotive. Plasticizers are categorized into different families falling under phthalates or non-phthalates.
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