Our comprehensive Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) reports covered by our locally-based experts, help to keep you abreast of the latest market developments and make vital business decisions. The weekly ICIS price reports are published in Asia, China, Middle East/south Asia, CIS, Europe, the US and Latin America. Price assessments vary depending on the region and include spot, import, export, domestic and contract prices.
Our independent and unbiased commentary includes an overview of weekly market activity, demand and supply trends, production issues, upstream movements, graphs and economic news.
Updated to Q3 2019
In the third quarter of 2019, supply for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in Asia initially tightened amid several production disruptions in the region. Spot exports of both carbide-based and ethylene-based PVC from China were also limited as producers in the country saw better netbacks in the domestic markets. On the other hand, continued availability of deep-sea material from the US meant that regional spot supply remained healthy.
Compared to relatively steady demand from southeast Asia, buying sentiment was cautious in China amid the protracted trade war with the US. Demand in India was also dampened by the ongoing monsoon season. Sentiment was further weighed down by fluctuating Asian currencies against the strong US dollar, especially in China where the Chinese yuan fell to record lows against the strong US dollar.
European polyvinyl chloride (PVC) supply was somewhat reduced through the third quarter. There were both planned and unplanned shutdowns in the market including several turnarounds by KEM ONE in August and September, and a force majeure at Spolana’s Czech Republic plant later in the quarter. In addition, producer INOVYN suffered a feedstock issue impacting its UK and Nordic PVC production. Lower supply was for the most part offset by reduced demand, particularly for specialist PVC grades.
European PVC demand was weaker, particularly for specialist grades used in the automotive sector, as the weaker economy impacted downstream consumption. Seasonal activity was also down in the July-August period as players were away during the holiday season, with consumption failing to rebound as strongly as expected. Demand in the key export market of Turkey also remained weak as a result of the volatile lira and the construction sector seeing reduced consumption compared to 2018.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) supply in Latin America during the third quarter of 2019 was adequate despite feedstock shortages in Argentina and Brazil. Brazil was prompted to import ethylene dichloride to continue operations at its PVC plant in Maceio, while Argentina had to import ethylene from Brazil due to issues at the crackers in Bahia Blanca. Mexico and the US continued compete in export markets shipping material to South America. Venezuela’s PVC production has not restarted since mid-2017.
Supply of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) was mixed in India during the third quarter. Turnarounds in northeast Asian and Russian plants contributed to tighter supply earlier in the quarter. However, late in the quarter, supply lengthened with the emergence of several deep-sea origin cargoes. In the Middle East, supply was largely stable, amid unchanged market fundamentals.
Demand for PVC was mixed in India during the third quarter. The onset of the traditional monsoon period curbed demand, as buyers were not keen on booking cargoes that would arrive during the peak of the monsoon. However, demand improved late in the quarter as buyers stocked up for the peak pipe-making season, which typically begins in October. Demand in the Middle East was lacklustre amid a lack of infrastructure activity in the summer.
Supply in the US polyvinyl chloride (PVC) market continued steady with slightly diminished demand meeting slightly lower operating rates among US producers. Domestic production was down almost 4% year-to-date through August with domestic sales down by a similar amount, according to industry estimates. Exports were nearly flat year-to-date, but started to grow during the quarter.
Demand during the third quarter began to strengthen from the second quarter when an elongated winter extended into the period when construction demand typically surges. That delayed the onset of the summertime peak construction season and the peak season of US PVC demand. Export volumes also began to increase, helping to alleviate long supply in the US domestic market. Still domestic demand remained below that of the same period in 2018.
We offer the following regional Polyvinyl chloride analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Polyvinyl chloride marketplace.
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PVC is produced from the polymerisation of Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM). It is a versatile thermoplastic with a wide range of uses including pipes & fittings, profiles, cables, flooring, films & sheets
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) occurs as white, amorphous, odourless powder. It is soluble in nitrobenzene, cyclohexanone, and tetrahydrofuran but insoluble in vinyl chloride. It is resistant to dilute alkalis and acids but is attacked by concentrated nitric and chromic acids.
Two types of PVC homopolymer are produced: rigid resins which are inflexible and hard; and flexible resins which contain a large proportion of plasticiser to make them soft and can be stretched. Products made from rigid PVC include pipe and conduit and roofing tiles.
Flexible PVC finds outlets in wire and cable coating, flooring, coated fabrics and shower curtains. Other outlets for flexible PVC are film and sheet and flooring.
Polymerisation is normally performed at 40-70oC with the vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) in a liquid state under pressure in a batch reactor. Suspension polymerisation is the most common PVC process because the resins produced are the most versatile and suitable for a wide range of applications.
The resin produced from the polymerisation process is hard and brittle and requires conversion into a compound by the incorporation of additives such as plasticisers, modifiers, stabilisers and processing aids before conversion into finished products.
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