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Updated to Q1 2021
TDI supply was tight in the first quarter following unforeseen events such as the polar storms in the US Gulf Coast, which cut production at some major US facilities. An unexpected shutdown at a Middle East facility led to decreased availability for exports to Asia as well, lending upward support to the spot market.
Demand for TDI was mixed, with cargo uptake slowing down ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday and picking up after the festivities. With supply shortening abruptly amid unexpected disruptions, buyers actively purchased material amid concerns of availability in the near term. However, with the related polyols market also registering steep price gains, some buyers struggled with increasing production cost pressure.
TDI supply was mixed in Q1 after the region’s largest producer, BASF, closed its Ludwigshafen plant in Germany in mid-March for maintenance after a three-month closure in late 2020. Outages at US plants following winter storms in mid-February and logistics issues further tightened supply.
TDI demand was relatively healthy in Q1 as the buying appetite for mattresses and furniture continued to beat expectations, spurred by a boom in home improvements linked to the coronavirus pandemic. In some cases, however, TDI demand was capped by limitations on polyether polyols supply, which constrained foam production. Automotive demand for flexible foams fluctuated.
TDI supplies tightened during Q1 as the mid-February winter storm along the US Gulf Coast impacted all US TDI production sites as well as creating shortages in availability of a number of feedstock and intermediate chemicals used in TDI production. Several TDI force majeures emerged following the winter storm as supplies tightened. Ongoing chlorine shortages have continued to impact average TDI operating rates.
TDI demand remained strong throughout Q1 amid an ongoing expansion in US manufacturing activity. Consumers have been allocating more of their disposable income to home improvements and consumer durable goods relative to travel and entertainment services as many consumers are spending more of their time at home due to ongoing coronavirus-related movement restrictions.
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