The ICIS Polycarbonate report is published weekly in Asia, Europe and the US and monthly in CIS. These reliable and trustworthy reports can help industry players to keep abreast of the latest news and make informed business decisions.
The price assessments largely focus on general purpose (GP) moulding and GP extrusion grades and cover spot or contract, depending on the region. Market intelligence comprises of regional overviews, upstream news, graphs and production updates.
Updated to Q2 2020
Supply increased in the first half of Q2, as domestic China PC makers produced a lot of PC in anticipation of a rise in demand due to China’s economic recovery from the coronavirus. However, as BPA feedstock prices surged, leading to a very thin spread between BPA and PC, these PC producers then decreased operating rates, resulting in tighter supply. Supply of imported PC was mostly stable.
Demand for imports into China increased in May and June as sentiment was buoyed by the One Helmet, One Belt policy, along with China’s economic recovery from the pandemic. However, most of this demand was driven by traders looking to purchase stock in anticipation of greater economic recovery, whereas demand from end-users was stifled by poor demand for finished goods from key export markets. The exception was extrusion-grade polycarbonate which enjoyed a brief spike in demand due to the pandemic.
Availability shifted from snug to well-supplied during Q2, as demand from key sectors such as the automotive industry and construction plummeted on the back of the lockdowns imposed by European governments.
Views on demand were mixed during Q2 depending on application. Downstream automotive demand remained very weak because of a subdued economic climate and widespread factory closures across the continent. Buying appetite from the construction sector was also subdued, although started to perform better than automotive by the end of Q2. There were some demand green shoots coming from manufacturers of protective equipment and hospital pop-up projects, along with medical and bottle sectors.
US PC supply remained long, unchanged from Q1. Producer SABIC began a scaled turnaround in March that is expected to last through August. The exact scope of the work to be performed is still unknown, but market sources said no more than 20% of capacity would be down at one time. Reduced demand from the automotive shutdown added to the supply overhang.
PC demand fell compared with Q1 as economies shut down amid efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Some pockets of new demand emerged from the medical sector for face shields and point-of-sale shields to separate customers from cashiers in grocery stores. As about 18-20% of global PC demand comes from auto production, market participants will be watching to see when auto production resumes in North America.
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Polycarbonate (PC) is a type of high specification engineering plastic, suitable for moulding and with a high impact resistance.
Polycarbonate resins are tough thermoplastics with major markets in the electrical/electronic sectors such as computer and business equipment, optical discs, glazing and sheet products and in the automotive construction industries.
Other uses include safety helmets and shields, housing components, household appliances, water cooler bottles, lighting fixtures, sporting goods, and aircraft and missile components.
Polycarbonates are long-chain linear polyesters of carbonic acid and dihydric phenols, such as bisphenol-A (BPA). It is hydroscopic, has only fair chemical resistance and is attacked by many organic solvents.
Polycarbonate is naturally transparent, with the ability to transmit light nearly that of glass. It has high strength, heat resistance, and excellent dimensional and colour stability.
Different grades of the polymer are available and the grades vary by strength, clarity, moulding temperatures, service temperatures and other parameters.
Polycarbonate is also used in compounds or blended with other resins such as acrylonitrile-butadiene styrene (ABS) or polybutylene terephthalate (PBT).
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