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 Q1 2019
Supply may tighten if polyols imports from the Middle East fall due to upcoming turnarounds at upstream propylene oxide (PO) plants there. Within China, polyols output may slow as plants in the country, and the wider region, are expected to shut or scale back on operations during the extended Lunar New Year holidays in February.
Demand is expected to remain weighed down by lingering concerns about the ongoing US-China trade war and whether it will take a turn for the worse in 2019, further squeezing Chinese exports of foam-based product to the US. Polyols is a key ingredient in the manufacture of polyurethane (PU) foam.
The intensity of demand in the first quarter will be key to Europe polyols supply levels. Availability was lengthy in much of the fourth quarter amid limited consumption. Participants will consequently be keeping an eye on order book volumes to understand how much product there will be in the market.
Europe polyols market participants were unclear as to when purchasing interest would rise after a dampened 2018. Toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) fundamentals remain important in understanding where polyols order book volumes will be as both products produce polyurethane (PU) foam together.
Polyol supply is anticipated to remain long in the first quarter. Inventories for propylene feedstock have been lengthening, suggesting that feedstock supplies for polyol producers will remain ample. The US polyol market is structurally long.
Demand for polyols and polyurethane systems will be dragged down by seasonal factors in the first quarter, although underlying fundamentals remain healthy. Automotive sales are expected to continue to slowly ease after reaching historic highs earlier in the decade while the seasonal slow period in the construction sector will also depress polyol demand.
Supply is not expected to see any major change in Q1 with no expected disruptions or plant maintenance shutdowns due in the quarter. The price of PO remains a concern for producers especially those based in China but there have been some signs of easing and as such some producer may have more flexibility to offer discounts going forward to entice buyers.
Demand for all grades of polyols in the Middle East is expected to remain thin and deals would likely to remain elusive. Most buyers are expected to continue buying on needs basis while high prices of feedstock propylene oxide prevented many producers from offering bigger discounts due to high operating costs.
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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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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