Polycarbonate (PC)

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These strong, hard, tough and transparent engineering thermoplastics are used to manufacture a multitude of products. They range from medical devices to car parts and lighting covers, which means that polycarbonates are constantly in demand. A variety of upstream and downstream factors such as availability of raw materials, seasonal fluctuations, and consumer trends can impact polycarbonate prices, which makes trading all the more complex.

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Polycarbonate news

PODCAST: Glimmers of hope for Europe acetone and phenol derivative chain in a difficult climate; freight/logistics key

LONDON(ICIS)–European downstream demand remains low due to inflation and high interest rates. Add logistics issues and a continuous flow of imports to that, and the doom of European petrochemical industry begins. But with the recent reduction in interest rates by ECB and increased tariffs on Asian EVs, there is hope that the acetone and phenol derivative chain might come back to its glory. Europe ICIS editors Jane Gibson (acetone and phenol), Heidi Finch (bisphenol A and epoxy resins), Meeta Ramnani (polycarbonate), Mathew Jolin-Beech (methyl methacrylate) and ICIS senior analyst Michele Bossi (aromatics and derivatives) discuss the latest development in imports, bans and interest rates that are likely to impact the acetone, phenol and derivatives markets. Acetone market balanced to tight on export demand, slim import volumes and curtailed op rates as phenol struggles to find demand Cut of interest rates by ECB and tariffs on Chinese EVs increases hope of recovery of demand Dependency increases on Asian imports for PC BPA and epoxy players keep close eye on upstream, logistics and regulatory factors Challenging global as well as regional logistics impact MMA supply in Europe Podcast edited by Meeta Ramnani


Saudi Aramco Q1 net income falls amid weaker refining, chemicals margins

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Saudi Aramco's net income fell by 14.4% year on year to Saudi riyal (SR) 102.3 billion in the first quarter amid lower crude oil volumes and weakening downstream margins, the energy giant said on Tuesday. in SR billions Q1 2024 Q1 2023 % Change Sales 402.04 417.46 -3.7 Operational Profit 202.05 222.18 -9.1 Net profit 102.27 119.54 -14.4 Early this year, Saudi Arabia’s government ordered Aramco to halt its oil expansion plan and to target a maximum sustained production capacity of 12m barrels/day, 1m barrels/day below the target announced in 2020. In the first quarter, Aramco's downstream income before interest, income taxes and zakat (annual Islamic tax) slumped by 64% year on year to SR4.62 billion. The drop in downstream earnings reflects weakening refining and chemicals margins, partially offset by inventory valuation movement, it said. The drop in group earnings was partially offset by lower production royalties, an increase in crude oil prices compared to the same period last year and lower income taxes and zakat. Despite having a capacity of 12 million barrels/day, Saudi Arabia currently produces about 9 million barrels/day as part of production cuts initiated by OPEC and its allies in October 2022 and further voluntary cuts by Saudi Arabia and other OPEC+ members in April 2023, all designed to stabilize oil prices. Following an OPEC+ meeting in June 2023, Saudi Arabia – the world's top crude exporter – announced a further oil production cut of 1 million barrels/day. “Looking ahead, I expect our portfolio to continue to evolve as we aim to contribute to an energy transition that offers solutions to climate challenges, but at the same time recognizes the need for affordable, reliable, and flexible energy supplies," added Amin Nasser, Aramco's President and CEO. Aramco's chemicals arm SABIC and China's Fujian Energy and Petrochemical Group Co held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of construction at the SABIC Fujian Petrochemical Complex in China's Fujian province during the first quarter. The project will include a mixed-feed steam cracker with up to 1.8m tonne/year ethylene (C2) capacity and various downstream units producing ethylene glycols (EG), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and polycarbonate (PC), among other products. Thumbnail photo : One of Aramco's US offices (Source: Saudi Aramco)


SABIC Q1 net income falls 62%, warns of industry overcapacity

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–SABIC's net income fell by 62% year on year to Saudi Riyal (SR) 250 million in the first quarter amid a drop in prices and sales volumes, the chemicals major said late on Wednesday. Losses from discontinued operations continue to weigh on results Overcapacity persists, pressuring the industry as market growth lags – CEO Spending range of $4 billion to $5 billion expected for 2024 in Saudi riyal (SR) billions Q1 2024 Q1 2023 % Change Sales 32.69 36.43 -10 Operational profit 1.21 1.76 -31 Net income 0.25 0.66 -62 "The decrease in net profit is attributed to lower revenues, lower results from associates and joint ventures in addition to losses from discontinued operations," SABIC said in a filing on the Saudi bourse, Tadawul. SABIC swung to a net loss of Saudi riyal (SR) 2.77bn ($739m) in 2023, largely due to one-off losses related to a divestment. Q1 revenue fell following a 3% decline in average selling prices and a 7% reduction in sales quantities. "Global economic uncertainty remained high during the first quarter of 2024, caused by geopolitical and logistical issues. Adding to these challenges were high global inflation levels and strict lending policies," SABIC CEO Abdulrahman Al-Fageeh said in a separate statement. Al-Fageeh in an investor call cautioned that overcapacity remains a challenge for the industry, creating a gap between supply and demand that is likely to persist throughout 2024. While positive demand signals emerged in Q1 2024, "the year outlook remains uncertain as the world still navigates through geopolitical situations with high inflation", he said. SABIC plans to adopt a disciplined approach to capital expenditure, projecting a spending range of $4 billion to $5 billion for the year, compared with $3.5 billion to 3.8 billion last year. NEW PROJECTS SABIC has started construction of its $6.4bn manufacturing complex in China’s southern Fujian province. The project "would add a qualitative range of products to SABIC’s portfolio of chemicals and polymers and enhance the company's presence in the Chinese market", the company said. The project will include a mixed-feed steam cracker with up to 1.8m tonne/year ethylene (C2) capacity and various downstream units producing ethylene glycols (EG), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and polycarbonate (PC), among other products. SABIC also inaugurated the world’s first large-scale electrically heated steam olefins cracking furnace in Netherlands, which will pave the way for the company to fulfill its commitment to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. SABIC is 70%-owned by energy giant Saudi Aramco. ($1 = SR3.75) Thumbnail photo by SABIC Focus article by Nurluqman Suratman


Asia top stories – weekly summary

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Here are the top stories from ICIS News Asia and the Middle East for the week ended 28 March 2024. Asia PX supply to decrease; demand outlook uncertain By Samuel Wong 28-Mar-24 13:08 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Supply for paraxylene (PX) in Asia is expected to gradually decrease heading into the second quarter of 2024 as a result of several planned maintenance shutdowns. INSIGHT: GCC signs deal with Turkey to start FTA talks as part of diversification plans By Nurluqman Suratman 28-Mar-24 00:54 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–The Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) recent deal with Turkey to launch negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) further signals the bloc's commitment to diversify away from oil revenues. PODCAST: A tale of two olefins – diverging trends in Asia's olefins markets By Julia Tan 27-Mar-24 19:11 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia's ethylene (C2) market will see northeast Asia supply in Q2 remain ample on the back of relatively high run rates at northeast Asian crackers. Saudi Aramco eyes further chemical investments in China with local partners By Nurluqman Suratman 26-Mar-24 12:03 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China has a "vitally important" place in Saudi Aramco's global investment strategy, with the energy giant actively developing additional investment opportunities with its Chinese partners in the chemicals sector, Aramco president and CEO Amin Nasser said. China’s Sinopec 2023 profit falls 13% as chemicals incur loss for second year By Fanny Zhang 25-Mar-24 15:14 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Chinese producer Sinopec posted a 12.9% decrease in full-year 2023 net profit as product prices fell across the board, dragged down by operating losses in chemicals. Asia PC makers grapple with poor Chinese demand By Li Peng Seng 25-Mar-24 10:57 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia’s polycarbonate (PC) makers have been struggling to raise prices in China recently due to slow demand, while production costs continue to rise.


Saudi Aramco eyes further chemical investments in China with local partners

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China has a "vitally important" place in Saudi Aramco's global investment strategy, with the energy giant actively developing additional investment opportunities with its Chinese partners in the chemicals sector, Aramco president and CEO Amin Nasser said. The global oil major’s strategic goals in chemicals are “well-aligned” with China’s, he said in a keynote speech at the China Development Forum in Beijing on 25 March, noting that the country “is already a powerhouse representing 40% of global [chemical] sales”. Aramco, through its chemicals arm SABIC, is planning to increase its liquids-to-chemicals throughput to 4m barrels per day by 2030, Nasser said. Saudi Aramco accelerated its push into China’s refining and petrochemical sector last year with strategic investments that are aligned with Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 diversification goals. This includes the 10% stake acquisition in Rongsheng Petrochemical Co for $3.4bn last year. Saudi Aramco, together with Chinese partners Norinco Group and Panjin Xincheng Industrial Group (PXIG), is also building a 300,000 bbl/day refining and ethylene-based steam cracking complex in Panjin City, in northeast China's Liaoning province at a cost of around $12bn. The Liaoning project is expected to come online in 2026. “We are also pleased that SABIC’s partnership in Fujian is on-track to commence construction of a major chemicals facility at an estimated cost of $6.4 billion,” Nasser said. The Fujian complex will include a mixed-feed steam cracker with up to 1.8m tonne/year ethylene (C2) capacity and various downstream units producing ethylene glycols (EG), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and polycarbonate (PC), among other products. SABIC’s other major investments in China include three compounding plants in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing; a joint venture with Sinopec in Tianjin; a technology centre in Shanghai and a customer centre office in Guangzhou. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT Demand for lower greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) materials – especially advanced composites and non-metallics in general – is growing rapidly, Nasser noted. Aramco’s research efforts in developing GHG materials are consistent with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s stance that sustainable development is the “golden key” for future success, he said. “We agree with China’s pragmatic and prudent approach to energy transition…I believe there are wide-ranging opportunities to jointly develop advanced GHG emission reduction technologies.” China has distinct strengths in renewables and critical materials, while Aramco and Saudi Arabia have a clear interest in solar, wind, hydrogen, and electro fuels, Nasser said. “These areas have great long-term potential, and combining our strengths could match our ambitions,” he added. Focus article by Nurluqman Suratman


Saudi SABIC swings to net loss in 2023 on Hadeed sale, challenging market

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Saudi Arabia’s chemicals major SABIC swung to a net loss of Saudi riyal (SR) 2.77bn ($739m) in 2023, largely due to one-off losses related to a divestment, while earnings from continued operations shrank amid challenging global market conditions. in Saudi Riyal (SR) bn 2023 2022 % Change Revenue 141.5 183.1 -22.7 EBITDA 19.0 36.4 -47.7 Net income from continuing operations 1.3 15.8 -91.8 Net income attributable to equity holders of the parent -2.8 16.5 – The company's net loss for 2023 was "driven mainly from the fair valuation of the Saudi Iron and Steel Co (Hadeed) business", SABIC in a filing to the Saudi bourse Tadawul on 27 February. In early September 2023, SABIC announced it had agreed to sell its entire stake in the Saudi Iron and Steel Co (Hadeed) to Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund for SR12.5bn. The sale resulted in non-cash losses worth SR2.93bn. From continuing operation, full-year net income declined by 91.8% on reduced profit margins for major products, as well as lower earnings of joint ventures and associated firms. SABIC also incurred charges from non-recurring items amounting to SR3.47bn in 2023,“as a result of impairment charges and write-offs of certain capital and financial assets as well as provisions for the restructuring program in Europe and constructive obligations”. Meanwhile, SABIC’s average product sales price in 2023 fell by 21%, reflecting the global downturn in petrochemical markets, it said. Overall sales volumes fell by 2% year on year in 2023 amid sluggish end-user demand, the company said. "Year 2023 presented numerous challenges for the petrochemical industry – the market environment was shaped by lackluster macroeconomic sentiment, weak end-user demand, and a wave of incremental supply for a large suite of products," it said. The company's petrochemicals business posted a 20% year-on-year decline in sales to SR131.3bn in 2023, with EBITDA down by 42% at SR14.6bn. "The petrochemical industry navigates a challenging operating environment – underwhelming demand within our target markets led to lower year end product prices and there remains considerable uncertainty heading into the first quarter of 2024," SABIC CEO Abdulrahman Al-Fageeh said. "The announced divestment of Hadeed is proceeding as planned – this optimization of internal resources will enhance our core focus on petrochemicals," he said. SABIC is also pursuing a number of initiatives to address the "competiveness of our European assets" aimed at a "maintainable and modernized footprint in the region", Al-Fageeh added. The company plans a higher capital expenditure of between $4bn and 5bn in 2024, compared with $3.5bn-3.8bn last year. SABIC has started construction of its $6.4bn manufacturing complex in China’s southern Fujian province. The project will include a mixed-feed steam cracker with up to 1.8m tonne/year ethylene (C2) capacity and various downstream units producing ethylene glycols (EG), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and polycarbonate (PC), among other products. SABIC is 70%-owned by energy giant Saudi Aramco. ($1 = SR3.75)


PODCAST: Red Sea issues dominate Europe phenol, acetone and derivatives markets

LONDON (ICIS)–Red Sea shipping issues have been the hot topic in Q1, with import delays opening up domestic demand opportunities and leading to a firmer price sentiment in some markets. There has been some increase in buying in January, but underlying demand is yet to recover in a shaky macro-economic climate. Europe ICIS editors Jane Gibson (acetone and phenol), Heidi Finch (bisphenol A and epoxy resins), Mathew Jolin-Beech (methyl methacrylate) and Meeta Ramnani (polycarbonate) discuss the impact of rising sea freight and feedstock costs in the acetone, phenol and derivatives markets. Phenol and acetone markets look to downstream demand pull for support Red Sea crisis set to continue impacting MMA supply for remainder of Q1 Europe epoxy and BPA markets exposed to Red Sea issues/import delays, tendency firmer European PC suppliers benefiting from the unavailability of Asian imports Podcast editing by Meeta Ramnani


SABIC to proceed with $6.4bn Fujian petrochemical complex in China

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Saudi petrochemical giant SABIC has made a final investment decision (FID) on a joint venture $6.4bn manufacturing complex in Fujian in southern China. The complex will include a mixed-feed steam cracker with up to 1.8m tonne/year ethylene capacity and various downstream units producing ethylene glycols (EG), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polycarbonate (PC), among others, SABIC said in statement on 21 January. SABIC Fujian Petrochemicals Co (SFPC) – a 51:49 joint venture between SABIC Industrial Investment Co, a wholly owned SABIC subsidiary, and Fujian Fuhua Gulei Petrochemical – will operate the project. Based on the project’s environment impact assessment report document approved in June 2022, the expected PE and PP capacities would be 1m tonnes/year and 950,000 tonnes/year, respectively. Construction is expected to begin during the first half of 2024, with start-up to commence from the second half of 2026 and will last for six months, SABIC said. “The FID is a significant milestone for SABIC’s business expansion and development in China,” SABIC CEO Abdulrahman Al-Fageeh said. “The project aims to support our goal of diversifying our feedstock sources and establishing a petrochemical manufacturing presence in Asia for a wide range of products,” he said. China is the world’s second-biggest economy and remains a major importer of petrochemicals despite strong capacity additions in recent years. SABIC’s other major investments in China include three compounding plants  – in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing; a joint venture with Sinopec in Tianjin; a technology center in Shanghai; and a customer centre office in Guangzhou. The company is 70%-owned by energy giant Saudi Aramco, which is the world’s biggest crude exporter. Aramco has been taking strategic stakes in Chinese refining and petrochemical projects since last year as it aggressively expands downstream, in line with a diversification strategy under its Vision 2030. Among the major deals sealed and completed in 2023 was the $3.4bn acquisition of a 10% stake in Chinese producer Rongsheng Petrochemical, which has a majority stake in Zhejiang Petroleum and Chemical Co Ltd’s (ZPC) integrated and petrochemical complex. ZPC can process 800,000 bbl/day of crude oil, with an ethylene capacity of 4.2m tonnes/year. Focus article by Fanny Zhang Thumbnail image: Shandong Free Trade Zone, Qingdao, China – 1 January 2024 (Costfoto/NurPhoto/Shutterstock)


Summary of 2024 Americas Outlook stories

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Here are the '24 Americas Outlook stories which ran on ICIS news throughout December and January. Click on a headline to read the full story. OUTLOOK '24: US economy poised for soft landing – will chemicals see a restocking bump? A year ago, just about every economist called for a US recession, and for good reason. Inflation was out of control, interest rates were headed higher and growth was slowing dramatically. But 2023 was a year of resilience, driven by the strong labor market and US consumer. OUTLOOK '24: US ABS, PC demand weakness lingers The 1.5-year demand decline in US acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and polycarbonate (PC) markets may bottom out in 2024. OUTLOOK '24: US BDO starts new year amid weak derivative demand US 1,4 butanediol  (BDO) is set to start 2024 after a year of suppressed demand and five straight quarters of contract price declines. OUTLOOK ’24: Global oversupply to pressure PE margins, US to remain advantaged The global polyethylene (PE) industry will continue to face a significant supply overhang in 2024, as recent capacity additions have well exceeded demand growth. Demand from emerging Asian economies, especially, has failed to keep pace with expectations, although most major global PE markets faced recessionary or near recessionary conditions in 2023. OUTLOOK '24: Lat Am PE to remain oversupplied, demand recovery pushed back Polyethylene (PE) markets in Latin America are set to continue being oversupplied in 2024 while demand is expected to grow at a slower rate than expected. OUTLOOK ’24: Demand likely to be lukewarm for US IPA, MEK amid weak housing sector Demand for methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) and isopropanol (IPA) is likely to be lukewarm amid a soft housing construction market and with lower GDP growth forecasts, but with destocking largely over, some restocking could be forthcoming. OUTLOOK ’24: US PP margins to face pressure amid global oversupply US polypropylene (PP) margins are likely to face pressure in 2024 as a global oversupply in the PP industry is likely to keep pricing and margins depressed globally. According to the ICIS Supply and Demand Database, global PP capacity has increased by 26.1% over the past five years while PP demand rose by 15.2% over the same time period, resulting in a significant supply overhang. OUTLOOK '24: Lat Am’s PP demand to remain sluggish, imports to keep rising Demand for polypropylene (PP) in Latin America is unlikely to recover in the first half of 2024, with market participants expecting demand to be low in the first quarter. OUTLOOK '24: US acrylonitrile demand weakness to continue The two-year demand decline in US acrylonitrile (ACN) markets may continue well into 2024. OUTLOOK '24: US chem tanker market tight into H1; headwinds from Panama drought, Middle East tensions The US liquid chemical tanker shipping market is expected to remain tight into the first half of the year, container rates are likely to be steady at near-pre-pandemic levels, and drought conditions in Panama and geopolitical unrest in the Middle East are likely to create additional headwinds for shippers in the coming year. OUTLOOK '24: US benzene to face softness in derivative demand; lowered crude oil forecasts US benzene is experiencing soft demand in Q4 '23, as derivative demand remains weak. OUTLOOK '24: US toluene, MX demand and premiums over RBOB to remain strong US toluene and mixed xylenes (MX) demand is expected to remain strong in 2024 due to a combination of supply shortages and ongoing strength in octane demand. OUTLOOK ’24: US PX consumption could improve in Q2 2024 on bottle-grade PET summer demand US paraxylene (PX) consumption will likely remain poor through Q1 of 2024, however, the market is expected to experience an uptick in consumption in Q2 as downstream bottle-grade polyethylene terephthalate (PET) prepares for the peak summer season. OUTLOOK ’24: Melamine restocking may take place in H1 depending on the US economy performance The just-in-time purchasing strategy implemented this year caused the ICIS market prices for US melamine contracts to decline in the first and second quarters, before stabilizing in the third quarter due to a rollover. OUTLOOK '24: Chem shares start new year on high note US-listed shares of chemical companies will start the new year on a high note after rallying in the final weeks of 2023 with the rest of the nation's stock market on the expectations that inflation is getting under control and that the Federal Reserve could start lowering interest rates. OUTLOOK ’24: US ethylene market to navigate challenging start to new year The US ethylene market is expected to remain long throughout the first half of 2024, facing headwinds from weak demand, ample supply and a sluggish economy. While unit maintenance will tighten supply some, significant improvement in supply/demand is not anticipated until at least the second half of next year. OUTLOOK '24: Soft housing market to weigh on US etac demand Demand for US ethyl acetate (etac) in 2024 could face headwinds from a slow residential construction market, but steady demand from adhesives, packaging, and printing inks could be enough to maintain a floor. OUTLOOK '24: US R-PET market split by impact of imports, despite ratable consumer goods PCR content progress Despite the beginning of a new year, the US recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) market is bracing for a continuation of lackluster demand, responding to the pressure from global economic weakness and increasing import competition. OUTLOOK '24: US epoxy resins at critical point as weak demand erodes margins US epoxy resins players are turning their attention to 2024 with hope that overall demand will improve, but most are unable to point to any factors that can drive growth. OUTLOOK '24: Feedstock and demand headwinds weighing on US MMA US methyl methacrylate (MMA) players are wondering how feedstocks and demand will shape up going into 2024, but sentiment is not particularly positive. OUTLOOK ’24: US propylene market unsettled on tight supply The US propylene market faces supply constraints entering the new year that threaten to keep prices volatile. But demand is expected to continue to be tepid, which will add some stability to the tight market. OUTLOOK '24: After lackluster 2023, US glycol ethers, butac demand may benefit from potential rate cuts Both US butyl acetate (butac) and glycol ethers have experienced lukewarm demand in 2023 due to headwinds facing key end-use markets. OUTLOOK '24: US acrylate demand expected to face more favorable conditions After facing soft demand for much of 2023, US glacial acrylic acid (GAA) and acrylate esters prices rose following a Q4 increase in propylene prices. Though demand remains lackluster in December, it could be gradually boosted in 2024. OUTLOOK '24: US aromatic, aliphatic solvents sentiment moderately optimistic In line with a somewhat tepid view a year ago, the outlook for US aromatic and aliphatic solvents for H1 2024 is guardedly optimistic. OUTLOOK ’24: US PS demand likely to remain subdued in 2024 Demand for US polystyrene (PS) is expected to remain subdued into the next year amid expectations of another year of sluggish GDP growth along with interpolymer substitution pressures. OUTLOOK '24: Lat Am PS pressured by slow manufacturing, single-use plastics regulations The Latin American polystyrene (PS) market will continue to face challenges in 2024 as manufacturing in most countries remains slow and regulations against single-use plastics increase. OUTLOOK '24: US EPS market to face continued weakness in new year The outlook for expandable polystyrene (EPS) in the new year is weak, at least in first half of the year, as the same issues that challenged the market in 2023 will continue. OUTLOOK '24: US nylon demand weak amid manufacturing contraction Demand decline in US nylon markets which started in Q3, 2022 will continue in H1 2024. ICIS economists are forecasting a soft landing of US economy with recovery starting in H2 2024. OUTLOOK '24: US caustic soda starts New Year with sentiment of slimmer demand, price increase nominations US liquid caustic soda starts 2024 with producers taking action to address the threat of oversupply amid weak demand and price declines. OUTLOOK ’24: Latin America caustic soda market focusing on new initiatives in H1 Latin American countries are poised to sustain a strong dependence on exports from the United States in H1. Anticipating a challenging domestic market, US producers plan to prioritize exports in 2024 based on the prevailing economic outlook. OUTLOOK '24: US acetic acid, VAM supply tightness to improve in H1 US acetic acid and derivative vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) supply remains limited, but the tightness should continue to improve throughout H1. OUTLOOK ’24: US styrene expected to face continued headwinds The US styrene market is expected to continue to see weak demand and sufficient supply into the new year and will generally follow current macroeconomic trends. OUTLOOK ‘24: After slow 2023, US TiO2 demand demand hinges on rate cuts North American titanium dioxide (TiO2) demand has been weak for much of the past year, with a soft housing market amid elevated interest rates. However, the US Federal Reserve has recently signaled there could be multiple rate cuts in 2024, which could boost demand for key consumer sectors involving paints and coatings. OUTLOOK '24: US soda ash sees growing supply, slower demand and lower contract prices US soda ash enters 2024 with hopes of a rebalancing of supply and demand and a more stable market and lower prices following three years of supply and demand surges and retreats and record price increases for the once staid and mature commodity. OUTLOOK '24: Feedstock concerns, margin compression to underpin US fatty acids, alcohols markets Feedstock concerns and margin compression will continue to underpin US fatty acids and fatty alcohols markets in 2024 as demand headwinds persist in the first half of the year. OUTLOOK '24: US phenol demand to stay weak, pressuring acetone supply US phenol demand will likely remain weak and weigh on acetone supply in H1 2024 as no major factors are evident that could drive growth. OUTLOOK ’24: US polyurethane demand outlook to remain subdued into 2024 Demand for polyurethane systems in the US is expected to remain subdued moving into the new year as the US and global economies are expected to continue to struggle with macroeconomic headwinds. OUTLOOK '24: US HCl heads into 2024 with slowing oilfield demand and gloomy economic outlook US hydrochloric acid (HCl) ends 2023 with recent slimmer supply and slightly firming prices, but enters 2024 in a more balanced market with wavering demand. OUTLOOK '24: After weak demand for much of '23, US MPG pressured by rising feedstocks After declining for much of the past year, mono propylene glycol (MPG) contract prices have risen in consecutive months, with several rounds of separate price increase nominations emerging in Q4 ‘23. OUTLOOK '24: US base oils markets look for return of demand US base oils markets appear poised for ample supplies with buyers continued focus on just-in-time procurement as trade flows adjust to new legislation in 2024. OUTLOOK ’24: US paraffin wax market may continue to face demand challenges along with ample supply in H1 2024 A certain amount of demand and feedstock cost volatility could cause some price fluctuations for US slack wax in H1 2024. OUTLOOK '24: US fuels demand to soften amid poor macroeconomic conditions US demand for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel is expected to fall in 2024 due to the likelihood of recessionary economic conditions. OUTLOOK '24: Ample supply of US fuel, industrial ethanol expected in H1 on increased production US fuel and industrial ethanol markets are likely to be well supplied in 2024 on increased production and record corn crops, with pricing likely to be determined based on upstream costs and economic conditions. OUTLOOK ’24: Brazil fuel parity fluctuating in H1 on crude oil price trend Brazil expectations point to a slight decline in hydrous ethanol prices during the first half, aiming to boost competition with gasoline, as the parity remains more favorable to biofuel in Q4. OUTLOOK ’24: LatAm petchems to remain at mercy of China amid slowing economies Latin American petrochemicals are to remain ‘price takers’ in the global market and dependent on China’s overcapacities and that country’s success in reviving its own manufacturing sectors. OUTLOOK '24: INSIGHT: Regulatory surge, CFATS, EV incentives in play for US chems In 2024, the US chemical industry could see an attempt to revive the industry's main anti-terrorism program, an attempt at further permit reform and a last-ditch effort by the president to push through regulations before the elections in November. OUTLOOK '24: US BD import needs decrease as demand shifts, SBR stays weak The US is expected to have limited need for imported butadiene (BD) in 2024 and exports to Asia are likely to continue, especially if demand for derivatives such as styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) remains weak. OUTLOOK '24: US R-PE battles direct and indirect demand destruction from long virgin PE market The US recycled polyethylene (R-PE) market braces for continued weakness in order volumes across both sustainability-driven and cost-sensitive demand for both post-consumer and post-industrial recycled high-density polyethylene (R-HDPE) and recycled low-density polyethylene (R-LDPE) in 2024. OUTLOOK '24: US MA cautiously pessimistic amid lackluster demand US maleic anhydride (MA) is cautiously pessimistic going into 2024 amid lackluster demand and economic uncertainty. OUTLOOK '24: US methanol discounts reach unprecedented levels US methanol supply is expected to remain ample into the new year as the demand side remains seasonally slower. OUTLOOK ’24: Low water levels on Mississippi River unlikely to negatively impact PA, OX supply Low water levels along the Mississippi River are unlikely to negatively impact phthalic anhydride (PA) and orthoxylene (OX) supply due to low demand as a result of seasonality, coupled with economic headwinds, including elevated interest and mortgage rates, as well as lingering high inflation. OUTLOOK ’24: US plasticizers stay focused despite varying demand in H1 The market outlook for plasticizers in H1 2024 remains somewhat gloomy due to the ongoing effects of inflation and interest rates in industries in the niches of electronics, construction, automotive, and packaging. OUTLOOK '24: US PVC starts new year with bullish stance, pending capacity expansions US polyvinyl chloride (PVC) starts the new year with an abrupt exit from one of the worst years for demand and value preservation since the credit market wreckage of 2009. OUTLOOK ’24: Latin America PVC production exceeding local demand in H1 The complete recovery of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) demand in Latin America is not anticipated in the first half of 2024. OUTLOOK '24: US feedstocks to face headwinds Overall demand for US feedstocks is relatively low heading into 2024 amid falling ethane demand and potential macroeconomic headwinds. OUTLOOK '24: US glycerine supplies to remain ample in H1 despite mixed biofuels landscape US glycerine supplies are largely expected to remain ample in H1 2024, despite a structural decrease in installed US biodiesel capacity, as sustained strong biodiesel production in Indonesia and lackluster demand in China threaten to once again flood the US with excess supplies from southeast Asia. OUTLOOK ’24: US EG export volumes, production rates could be negatively impacted by Panama Canal backlog US ethylene glycol (EG) exports and production rates could be negatively impacted by the disruptions at the Panama Canal. Recently, the Panama Canal Authority (PCA) announced it would slash the number of vessels allowed to transit the waterway daily through 1 February 2024, as recent drought persists. OUTLOOK ’24: PET, PTA demand could pick up in Q2 ahead of peak summer season Bottle grade US polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and purified terephthalic acid (PTA) demand could pick up in the second quarter of 2024 as the market expects to begin preparing for peak bottled beverage season during the summer months. OUTLOOK ’24: Weather, Asia offers in H1 continue to have direct impact on PET prices in Latin America Increased import tariffs and economic uncertainties persist in influencing the quantities of PET exported from Asia to Latin America in 2023 and this trend will continue in 2024. Asia will remain committed to the global market to align with supply and demand dynamics, with ample materials accessible in H1, predominantly directed towards the west coast of South America. Despite the existence of import tariffs on Chinese resin in Mexico and Brazil, Asia's offerings continue to exert pressure on prices in Latin America in the short term.


Asia top stories – weekly summary

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Here are the top stories from ICIS News Asia and the Middle East for the week ended 24 November 2023. Producers hold back VAM offers for Asia amid US outage By Hwee Hwee Tan 24-Nov-23 12:31 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Producers are looking to divert vinyl acetate monomer supplies from Asia if a shortfall persists in the Atlantic basin from a major supply outage in the US. China’s Wanhua to enhance core business, explore future industries – president By Fanny Zhang 23-Nov-23 17:08 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Wanhua Chemical will continue to invest and innovate for sustainable growth, with each of its three major businesses having distinct development focuses, according to the company’s President Kou Guangwu. Oil prices fall more than $1/bbl after OPEC+ delays meeting By Nurluqman Suratman 23-Nov-23 10:37 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Oil prices fell by more than $1/bbl on Thursday, extending losses in the previous session after OPEC and its allies delayed a meeting to discuss whether to expand oil output cuts. Singapore 2023 GDP to grow around 1%; exports to contract deeper By Nurluqman Suratman 22-Nov-23 13:44 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Singapore’s trade-reliant economy is projected to grow at around 1.0% for the whole of 2023, with exports expected to post a steeper contraction amid the global economic slowdown. Poor demand constrains Asia petrochemical production; further output cuts likely By Nurluqman Suratman 21-Nov-23 12:15 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Operating rates at petrochemical plants in Asia will remain constrained, with further production cuts likely amid weak margins due to high costs, oversupply, and poor downstream demand. INSIGHT: Asia petchem prices expected to trend down through traditional November lull By Jimmy Zhang 20-Nov-23 22:00 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia petrochemical prices are expected to move downward in November mainly due to the traditional low demand season. China's moulding grade PC import demand to stay thin By Li Peng Seng 20-Nov-23 10:21 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China’s spot import prices for moulding grade polycarbonate (PC) have been on the downward spiral and the market is expected to stay bearish in the weeks ahead as buyers will purchase only on a need-to basis.


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