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 Q3 2019
Asia’s polyether polyols sector remained largely in oversupply throughout the third quarter, as active production among regional producers resulted in high inventory levels. Spot pricing was subjected to downward pressure as Asian and Middle Eastern sellers faced stiff competition among themselves to liquidate stocks that resulted in reduced offers to encourage uptake. There were few outages observed in the third quarter. As such, supply was largely ample.
Buying appetite for polyether polyols among Asian buyers was largely subdued throughout the quarter. Most buyers were not confident in committing to active spot trade as bearish sentiment and uncertainty over the near-term economic outlook plagued the market. Escalating tensions between the US and China amid the ongoing trade war contributed further to pessimism among polyols market players. Anti-dumping duties imposed on China-origin mattresses in the US weakened polyols demand.
Imported material, including from Saudi Arabia has added to pressure on European producers hoping to defend market share in the third quarter. Local supply was lengthy despite several planned and unplanned outages as downstream demand for polyurethanes weakened.
The post summer and autumn period has been unusually quiet. Flexible polyols have seen reduced buying for automotive and furnishing applications amid gloomy macroeconomic conditions and the ongoing trade dispute between the US and China. Rigid polyols demand has been somewhat less impacted as there has been some support from the construction sector.
Polyols supply has been stable in the quarter, but spot polyether polyols imports in the Middle East have been either been stable or lower due to stiff price competition and limited demand. There were limited plant shutdowns or disruptions among the main polyols suppliers in the quarter, but any improvements in margins from propylene oxide (PO) price declines were countered by stagnant demand.
The Middle East’s flexible polyether polyols market remained generally stagnant through much 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 been stable to soft through the quarter due to weak downstream demand as well.
US polyol supplies remained sufficient during the third quarter, reflecting structurally long supply conditions in the US polyol market. Feedstock propylene supplies were ample, supporting healthy operating rates at downstream polyol units. The impact of trade tensions with China was muted as participants utilised swap agreements to minimise the impact of the tariffs.
Demand for US polyols was steady at the slower levels that have prevailed throughout 2019. Global manufacturing activity has been sluggish, weighing down demand growth for polyols and downstream polyurethane systems. The construction sector saw a weaker-than-expected peak season during the second and third quarters.
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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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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