The ICIS Polyols reports are published weekly in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the US. This independent and unbiased pricing information covers a variety of grades including slabstock, high resilience, conventional and foam depending on the region.
Our locally-based network of reporters provide details of the factors affecting price movements. Commentary includes overviews, economic news, graphs, feedstock updates, demand and supply issues. This market intelligence will give you the confidence to make informed business decisions.
Updated to Q2 2019
Ample polyether polyols supply in Asia significantly outstripped demand in the second quarter, resulting in price declines as sellers actively sought buyers. Active competition among sellers subsequently took place, with offers dropped to encourage cargo uptake among buyers. Stable production for most part of the quarter ensured cargo availability throughout the region, and in local markets such as China. Scheduled shutdowns were scarce in the second quarter.
The cargo uptake rate was sluggish throughout the second quarter, as lacklustre demand amid uncertainty surrounding the US-China trade war weighed heavily on buyer confidence. Most Asian buyers opted to keep their inventories lean to minimise risks of losses should prices fluctuate further. The depreciation of the Chinese yuan and several Asian currencies against the US dollar also led buyers to keep procurement strictly to a domestic basis instead of importing.
The European polyols market was lengthy in large parts of 2019 as low consumption pushed supply up. German seller Covestro did declare a force majeure on polyether polyols at its 250,000 tonne/year Dormagen facility, according to a letter to its customers seen by ICIS and dated 15 April. The force majeure was the result of a crane accident and was lifted on 14 May. It had no large impact on availability, which stayed high.
Polyols consumption was low in the second quarter of 2019 on weak macroeconomics. The subsequent lack of consumer confidence weighed on demand. A few participants attributed weaker demand to customers moving away from downstream polyurethane (PU) foam after firmer pricing in 2017 for toluene diisocyanate (TDI), another feedstock for the product. Even though TDI pricing then plummeted to historic lows in 2019, sources said not all prior PU customers returned.
Middle East polyols supply esd stable in Q2, but spot import prices were stable-to-soft due to stiff price competition and limited demand, while the price of feedstock propylene oxide (PO) remained volatile. There were limited plant disruptions or shutdowns among the main polyols suppliers in Q2, but expectations of better margins due to PO price declines met with stagnant demand.
Flexible polyether polyols players have been largely on the sidelines through Q2 with Middle East market remaining generally stagnant through the first half of the year. Flexible foam production in the Middle East region has been depressed by slow demand for TDI and little improvement has been noted so far due to poor downstream demand from end-users. Rigid polyols have also been stable to soft through Q2, also due to weak downstream demand.
We offer the following regional Polyols analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Polyols marketplace.
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Independent price assessments and market coverage by region
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Track historical price data
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News & Analysis – News & market analysis specifically relating to Polyols
Breaking news of latest developments affecting the markets. Insight and analysis of factors driving prices.
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Polyols are a primary polyurethanes component. A polyol and an isocyanate react to form polyurethane.
Polyols are one of the components used to make polyurethanes, the other being an isocyanate. There are two main types of polyols: polyether polyols and polyester polyols.
Polyether polyols are the most widely used with the main applications being rigid and flexible polyurethane foams. Rigid foams are used mainly in insulation, refrigeration, packaging and construction while flexible foams have applications such as upholstery, mattresses and seats. Polyols can also be used in elastomers, adhesives, coatings and fibres.
Polyester polyols compete with polyether polyols but may be preferred in some rigid foam applications because of their low cost and improved flame retardant properties. They can also provide improved wear resistance, heat aging and chemical resistance in elastomers, coatings, sealants and adhesives.
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