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 Q4 2019
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) operating rates continued with relatively little disruption for much of Q4 2019 until early December, when a major Taiwanese producer saw slight production issues. These issues were resolved at the end of December. At the same time, China’s domestic supply of both carbide-based and ethylene-based material tightened amid stricter environmental and safety controls affecting production rates in the country.
Demand was slow to recover in India after a longer-than-expected monsoon season in 2019. The country is a major export destination for northeast Asian PVC producers. Despite the winter, spot interest from China was reinvigorated amid tight domestic supply in December and the removal of antidumping duties (ADDs) against PVC material from Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.
European polyvinyl chloride (PVC) supply was mostly stable in the fourth quarter of 2019. There were production issues at Spolana’s plant in the Czech Republic and at another plant in central Europe, according to sources, making those markets locally tighter. In December there were some issues with deliveries in France following strikes but this did not significantly impact prices in the short term with trends being in line with or below cost increases from feedstocks.
European PVC demand was lower in the fourth quarter compared to earlier in the year because of typical seasonal trends. Buyers reduced their consumption towards the end of the year in order to reduce stock positions and working capital, resulting in reduced demand. In addition, the downstream construction industry sees limited activity during the winter because of colder weather. Export markets such as Turkey remained slow because of economic weakness.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) supply in Latin America during the fourth quarter of 2019 was ample as demand remained moderate, extending similar market dynamics from the third quarter. PVC production remained stable in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. However, feedstock supply issues emerged in Argentina in June as Dow’s crackers were down through November. Brazil had brine shortages due to the subsidence of the salt mine in Alagoas.
PVC demand in Latin America in the fourth quarter of 2019 was moderate and weakened in November and December on political events, the year-end holidays and inventory reduction. Business in Argentina was slower than in Brazil on the back of high annual inflation, estimated at 55%. Frictions between the new administrations of these two nations and their slow economies has impacted the economies and trading of neighbouring countries.
Supply of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) was mixed in India in Q4 2019. Turnarounds in Q3 contributed to tighter supply early in the quarter, but later lengthened as several facilities’ production capacities returned to normal. In the Middle East, supply was mostly stable, with the bulk of import material supplied by the US.
Demand for PVC in India improved in early Q4 2019, as buyers were stocking up for the expected peak pipe-making season post-monsoon. However, a delayed end to the monsoon season wore on buying sentiment as the rains continued well into October and buyers were plagued by high inventories and lower-than-usual operating rates. In the Middle East, demand improved as construction activity was increased as the weather cooled towards the year end.
Supply of US PVC dipped during the fourth quarter as plant maintenance season brought a reduction in output. That allowed US suppliers to reduce inventories after a period of long supply on weakened domestic demand during the second and third quarters. Inventories contracted in October and November when production dipped to its second-lowest point of the year.
Demand was mixed during the fourth quarter as October showed the second-highest level of domestic sales for the year after lacklustre second and third quarters. Demand dropped sharply in November on seasonal factors as construction season drew to a close. December export demand revived somewhat on restocking activity and tighter supply in other global regions.
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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