Americas Chemical Industry Outlook for 2018

Source: ICIS News


HOUSTON (ICIS)--The following OUTLOOK '18 stories were published by ICIS news between Thursday 21 December 2017 and Tuesday 9 January 2018. Please click on the headlines to read the full versions.

OUTLOOK ’18: Crude oil to face tightening fundamentals, active geopolitics
The global crude oil glut is on the wane, although not necessarily as the direct effect of OPEC’s supply management efforts: The loose collective agreement may have supported market sentiment, but it is tearing at the seams.

OUTLOOK '18: US biodiesel hopeful heading into new year
The US biodiesel industry is heading into 2018 with more certainty than in previous years, following the finalisation of federally mandated blend volumes for 2018 and 2019. However, the highly politicised industry remains unsure as to the outcome of the $1/gal federal tax credit.

OUTLOOK '18: Increasing US BD supply putting pressure on sellers
Supply of domestic butadiene (BD) in 2018 is expected to increase on the start-up of several new crackers, putting pressure on domestic BD producers to increase market share.

OUTLOOK '18: US SBR likely softer on BD, still faces NR challenge
US styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) prices are likely to soften year on year in 2018, mostly on upstream butadiene (BD), but still faces a challenge from Asian natural rubber (NR) prices.

OUTLOOK '18: US MPG to follow feedstock propylene amid stable fundamentals
The US monopropylene glycol (MPG) market is anticipated to remain largely stable in 2018, with pricing expected to follow the movement of feedstock propylene.

OUTLOOK '18: US domestic soda ash steady, producers eye export growth
The US soda ash market expects to see steady domestic demand in 2018, with slight growth possible in line with an expanding economy. Globally, producers of US material will eye growing export opportunities at more attractive pricing as the supply situation remains tight worldwide.

OUTLOOK '18: US PE market facing downward pressure on supply overhang
The US polyethylene (PE) market will be facing some downward pressure at the start of 2018 as several large capacity additions are expected to result in longer supply.

OUTLOOK '18: US PP buyers hoping for lower feedstock propylene prices
Buyers in the US polypropylene (PP) market are heading into 2018 hoping to see some easing in feedstock propylene costs.

OUTLOOK '18: US ACN expected to balance out in new year
The US acrylonitrile (ACN) market is expected to recover and balance out in 2018, following major production hurdles encountered in 2017.

OUTLOOK '18: Higher quarterly prices for US BDO on the table
Higher prices will be the first consideration for the US butanediol (BDO) market in 2018, because of producer nominations that take effect on the first day of the new year.

OUTLOOK '18: Supply issues could undercut US MMA surge
Supply problems in 2017 kept the US methyl methacrylate(MMA) market tight and propelled prices higher, but resolved issues and additional global capacity could undercut or even derail that trend in the new year.

OUTLOOK '18: Chemical M&A drivers in place but players turn cautious
It’s been a roaring mergers and acquisitions (M&A) cycle in global chemicals, but the tide may be turning as players turn cautious as the economic cycle heads into the late stages and many commodity chemicals may be near peak profitability.

OUTLOOK '18: US acrylates expected balanced-to-tight amid strong demand
US acrylic acid and acrylate esters markets are anticipated balanced-to-tight early next year as supply attempts to keep up with stronger demand.

OUTLOOK '18: US ethanol eyes global markets amid rising production, slack demand
US fuel ethanol producers, staring at multi-quarter low pricing and deflating domestic motor gasoline demand, must eye growth in international markets in 2018 to keep a healthy supply and demand balance.

OUTLOOK '18: Tightness in US benzene supply may ease in Q1
US benzene supply concerns may see some easing in the first quarter, following a strong run-up in prices during the fourth quarter of 2017, driven by prompt supply shortages.

OUTLOOK '18: US MX to soften, trade deficit to increase in 2018
US mixed xylenes (MX) prices are expected to continue softening into Q1 2018 after experiencing some elevation in the latter half of 2017, owing to production issues faced in the refining industry.

OUTLOOK '18: US toluene demand expected to soften in Q1 2018
The US toluene market is expected to soften in Q1 2018 as downstream benzene supplies recover amid production issues faced in the market in Q4 2017.

OUTLOOK '18 US chemical industry experiencing renaissance
Despite disruptions from several major hurricanes three-quarters into the year, the US chemical industry grew in 2017, with similar growth expected for 2018 thanks to continued investments, as well as gains in a wide spectrum of industries.

OUTLOOK '18: First wave of new US plants to continue in new year
The US will continue starting up new petrochemical plants in 2018, after Hurricane Harvey kept some companies from beginning operations during the previous year.

OUTLOOK '18 US economy continuing momentum into new year
Thanks to strong domestic growth, low unemployment and finalised tax reform, forecasts for the US economy in 2018 are optimistic, with many expecting the gains from 2017 to continue.

OUTLOOK '18: US butac market anticipated to remain balanced-to-long
US butyl acetate (butac) supply will continue to stay balanced with demand for the near term, then stretch into some oversupply later in the first half of 2018.

OUTLOOK '18: US melamine prices poised to firm amid tight global supply
US melamine prices are poised to rise in the first quarter of 2018 on tight global supply and steady demand in most major consuming regions of the world.

OUTLOOK '18: US phenol/cumene margins likely down to flat despite cutback
Margins over feedstock costs for phenol and cumene in 2018 are expected to be down to flat in 2018, despite a production cutback set for January.

OUTLOOK '18: US acetone set to tighten on production cutback
The US acetone market is set to face tighter supply and pressure to increase import volumes in 2018 because of an impending production cutback in January.

OUTLOOK '18: US gasoline demand sags but refiners to continue record fuel production
Facing stagnant domestic demand for motor gasoline, US refiners in 2018 will continue to pump out increasing amounts of fuels to serve growing international markets.

OUTLOOK '18: US IPA market anticipating continued balance, stronger demand
US isopropanol (IPA) market participants are anticipating a demand surge in the first half of 2018 from storm- and fire-related recovery efforts.

OUTLOOK '18: US MEK market moving into more balanced position after tight H2 2017
The US methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) market in the US are moving into a more balanced position in early 2018, following a tight second half of 2017.

OUTLOOK '18: Uncertainty persists as NAFTA renegotiation deadline draws near
Negotiations for the reworking of NAFTA – the nearly 24-year-old free-trade agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico – is set to finish in 2018, but forecasters are virtually split over what a renegotiated NAFTA could mean, if it manages to occur at all.

OUTLOOK '18: US stocks may extend gains on global growth
The same factors that boosted US chemical stock prices in 2017 will likely persist in 2018, opening the possibility for further gains.

OUTLOOK '18: US MA faces upward pressure from feedstock butane
US maleic anhydride (MA) prices are facing upward pressure heading into 2018 amid higher costs for feedstock butane.

OUTLOOK '18: Ammonia buyers likely to hold upper hand
Global ammonia prices bounced back strongly during the final phase of 2017, although that upward momentum is expected to run out of steam in early 2018, and sentiment is that prices will likely favour buyers over producers.

OUTLOOK '18: US ethylene market to continue feeling effects of Harvey
US ethylene supplies will continue to be constrained into early 2018 due to Hurricane Harvey delaying the start-up of several cracker projects.

OUTLOOK '18: US propylene production set to expand in 2018
With the start-up of a new propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit and several crackers, propylene capacity in the US is set to expand during 2018, while downstream capacity remains steady.

OUTLOOK '18: Tight TiO2 supply, strong demand driving North American Q1 price hike efforts
Amid chronically short supply, North American titanium dioxide (TiO2) prices will see stronger-than-usual  upward pressure in the first half of 2018, including peak paint and coatings demand next spring.

OUTLOOK '18: US caustic soda could push higher on restricted global supply
US liquid caustic soda prices saw their steepest price increases in almost a decade during 2017, and 2018 holds prospects for further increases.

OUTLOOK '18: US HCl poised for demand surge in new year
The US hydrochloric acid (HCl) market anticipates greater demand from oilfield users in 2018 and will start the year with separately proposed price increase initiatives of $30-45/wet ton aimed at 1 January and the first quarter.

OUTLOOK '18: US EDC could see production growth, new demand from Europe
The US ethylene dichloride (EDC) market is likely to see robust production growth and rising export sales during 2018 as new ethane crackers come online and demand for the feedstock grows in global markets.

OUTLOOK '18: US VCM likely to remain below the radar in new year
US vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) has become captive, produced almost exclusively by integrated makers of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and exported almost exclusively through contracted transactions.

OUTLOOK '18: US PVC bullish in new year on rising demand
The US polyvinyl chloride (PVC) market anticipates a strong 2018 on rising demand to repair and rebuild the damage from three Category 4 hurricanes that made landfall in the US in 2017 and a rash of wildfires out west that have consumed nearly 10,000 homes and other structures in California.

OUTLOOK '18: Bullish potash market’s slow recovery to continue
While yet to reach the highs seen pre-2008, global muriate of potash (MOP) prices performed strongly in 2017, increasing in all regions at a slow, steady pace. Producers’ tight control on output ensured a steady - if restricted - supply across the world, although by the end of the year, silos were largely empty, and buyers left short.

OUTLOOK '18: US styrene prices likely to peak in March amid turnarounds
Prices in the US styrene market are poised to peak in the first quarter as up to three plants are expected to conduct turnarounds.

OUTLOOK '18: US PS, EPS to follow direction of key feedstocks in 2018
US polystyrene (PS) and expandable polystyrene (EPS) prices will largely follow the direction of key feedstocks benzene and styrene in 2018, given that the two feedstocks are the largest determining factors in price direction.

OUTLOOK '18: US ABS/PC demand should strengthen from auto sector
A continued effort to make US automobiles lighter should keep demand for acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and polycarbonate (PC) strengthening.

OUTLOOK '18: US isocyanate buyers hoping to see improved supply
US isocyanate buyers are hoping to see improved supply conditions in 2018, after both methyl di-p phenylene isocyanate (MDI) and toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) markets saw significant price increases over the course of 2017, driven by persistent supply tightness.

OUTLOOK '18: US polyol demand set to rise with polyurethane demand growth
US demand for polyols is likely to rise in 2018 along with healthy demand expected for polyurethane systems.

OUTLOOK '18: US nylon supplies expected to remain tight amid strong demand
The US nylon market is expected to remain tight in 2018 compared with 2017 amid sustained demand and supply issues.

OUTLOOK '18: Strong phosphates demand expected in Q1 despite fears of oversupply
The phosphates market is starting 2018 with bullish expectation of demand in major regions, with buyers in India likely to return to the market in mid-Q1 following the announcement of next year’s subsidies levels and maximum retail price (MRP) in February.

OUTLOOK '18: Eastman's Oct explosion resounds beyond US for acetic acid
The October explosion at an Eastman Chemical unit in Tennessee caused a big boom heard around the world that continues to reverberate in global acetyl markets as 2018 begins.

OUTLOOK '18: US VAM to face supply issues in new year
The US vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) market will face a pair of supply issues in the first quarter of 2018, with one a lingering force majeure and a busy turnaround season.

OUTLOOK '18: US PX faces downstream uncertainty, OX to remain steady
US paraxylene (PX) prices firmed in late 2017, and potential exists for pressure to remain on the market amid uncertainty downstream. Meanwhile, the orthoxylene (OX) market expects stability seen in late 2017 to continue into 2018.

OUTLOOK '18 Americas base oil industry moves into Group III use
The Americas base oil industry is moving strongly into Group III base stock use in 2018 as new vehicle engines will require more of the light viscosity oils.

OUTLOOK '18 US fatty alcohols could see supply pinch
The US fatty alcohol market in 2018 could see supply pose as much a driver as feedstocks, a shift from the upstream feedstock volatility that dominated 2017.

OUTLOOK '18: US glycerine market faces uncertainties in new year
The US glycerine markets are seeing uncertainty going into 2018 with global biodiesel an enigma, snug Asian oleochemical markets and mixed price direction in the US domestic market.

OUTLOOK '18: High feedstock costs, import prices to drive US epoxy market
High feedstock costs and import prices are expected to remain the main drivers for the US epoxy resin market in 2018.

OUTLOOK '18: US EG expected to remain steady at start of year
US ethylene glycol (EG) contracts are expected to remain steady early next year as supply levels are healthy, while downstream demand is slow on seasonality.

OUTLOOK '18: Supply crunch could keep US PET market firm amid antidumping, bankruptcy cases
Resin supply is expected to be the primary driver of the US polyethylene terephthalate (PET) market in 2018, and the general sentiment is that pricing pressure will persist in the new year after supply uncertainty drove resin prices higher in the latter part of 2017.

OUTLOOK '18: US plasticizer market anticipates pressure amid tightness, strong upstream pricing
The US plasticizers market firmed in the latter half of 2017, and market players expect pricing pressure to carry into 2018 amid some lingering tightness well as strong upstream pricing in crude and propylene.

OUTLOOK '18: OCI plant start-up to be record-breaking for US methanol
The big event for US methanol in 2018 will be the projected start-up of the new OCI Natgasoline unit in Beaumont, Texas, which should become a record-breaking plant for at least two reasons.

OUTLOOK '18: Sulphuric acid supply may remain tight through first half of the year
Although supply in 2018 as a whole is not expected to be as tight as it has been during 2017 because of a less intensive smelter maintenance schedule, several players expect at least the first half of 2018 to remain tight, and there is near universal agreement that spot shortages will continue throughout the first quarter.

OUTLOOK '18: New project startup timings to dictate global sulphur fundamentals
With a number of upcoming expansion projects in both the global sulphur market and the major end-use phosphates market planned for 2018, fundamentals are likely to be dictated by the timings of when the various projects ramp up to full production.

OUTLOOK '18: LatAm recovery strengthens amid busy election year
The largest economies in Latin America will continue recovering from recessions amid a busy election season.

OUTLOOK '18: US PE oversupply could have mixed impact in Latin America
New polyethylene (PE) production coming online in the US Gulf in the first quarter of 2018 could bring oversupply of product in Latin America, but the impact on each country will be different, considering that the regional economies are on different stages of development and have different import tariffs.

OUTLOOK '18: Latin America PP to face limited impact from expanding US capacity
Polypropylene (PP) markets in Latin America are expecting increased propylene production in the US, but the impact in the region’s PP market will be limited.

OUTLOOK '18: Latin America caustic soda likely to remain steady but firm
The caustic soda market outlook in Latin America points to stable-to-firm pricing in the first quarter of 2018, driven by the trend in other regions.

OUTLOOK '18: Latin America PVC faces uncertainty in early 2018
The polyvinyl chloride (PVC) outlook in Latin America for early 2018 remains tentative, after markets weakened in November and December as expected and in line with precedent.