TOPIC PAGE: Coronavirus, oil price crash – impact on chemicals

Author: Will Beacham


A new surge of coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in the US and Europe - and the possible lockdown measures that could follow - drove S&P Global Ratings to lower its full year global GDP growth projection for 2021.

In a report released on Friday, the rating agency lowered its global forecast to 5.0% GDP growth for 2021 from its previous projection of 5.3%. The agency’s 2022-2023 GDP forecast was largely unchanged.

The outlook notes that “hope is on the horizon” with positive news on successful vaccines, but said risks to its baseline are on the downside as new lockdown measures could last longer than expected, governments may protect shrinking sectors and fight necessary structural change or may suffer from “stimulus fatigue” and end support too early.

On this topic page we analyse the impact of coronavirus and the oil price collapse on chemical markets and bring together the latest news reported by ICIS. To visit the ICIS energy markets topic page, click here

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Rating agency lowers expectations for 2021 global GDP growth as new coronavirus cases surge
By: Adam Yanelli 2020/12/04 HOUSTON (ICIS)--A new surge of coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in the US and Europe - and the possible lockdown measures that could follow - drove S&P Global Ratings to lower its full year global GDP growth projection for 2021.

Germany's manufacturing orders exceed pre-pandemic levels, chem-pharma remains lower
By: Stefan Baumgarten 2020/12/04 LONDON (ICIS)--Germany’s October manufacturing orders exceeded pre-pandemic levels from February for the first time this year, driven by auto industry orders, according to official data on Friday.

Orders were up 0.8% compared with February 2020, before the pandemic hit Europe in earnest in March causing a sharp fall in economic activity.

Month on month, orders rose 2.9% in October, from September; year on year, they were up 1.8% from October 2019.

In the chemical-pharmaceutical industry, however, orders rose month on month but are yet to reach pre-pandemic levels.

PODCAST: China ACN prices hit year-to-date high in November on tight supply
By Dan Lu 2020/12/04 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China’s acrylonitrile (ACN) prices surged to the year-to-date high in November amid growing speculations, bolstered by tight supply.

INTERVIEW: Aramco seeks to expand global footprint in chemicals with focus on India, China - CEO
By Joseph Chang 2020/12/03 NEW YORK (ICIS)--Saudi Aramco is targeting chemicals investments in India and China as part of its global integrated oil-to-downstream chemicals strategy, its CEO said on Thursday.

By Clare Pennington 2020/12/03 LONDON (ICIS)--LNG analyst Alex Froley and senior reporter Clare Pennington share their views on the growing trend of carbon neutral cargoes, how companies are each taking their own approach, and what growth in the carbon market might look like in future years.

TOPIC PAGE: Coronavirus, oil price crash – impact on chemicals
By Will Beacham 2020/12/03 Global primary energy intensity this year is expected to increase at a decade low of 1%, with progress toward energy efficiency impeded by the economic recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA).

Pandemic slows down energy efficiency progress to decade low – IEA
By Pearl Bantillo 2020/12/03 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--The coronavirus pandemic has slowed down global progress in energy efficiency to a decade low, posing a threat to meeting international climate goals. This makes the next three years critical to reverse the “worrying trend”, the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) said.

“Global primary energy intensity - a key indicator of how efficiently the world’s economic activity uses energy - is expected to improve by less than 1% this year, the weakest rate since 2010,” according to IEA’s Energy Efficiency 2020 report released on Thursday.

“This is well below the level of progress needed to achieve the world’s shared goals for addressing climate change, reducing air pollution and increasing access to energy,” it said.

Investment in energy efficiency worldwide is on course to fall by 9% in 2020 amid the economic recession triggered by the pandemic, the IEA said.

China underpins Asia Nov manufacturing recovery; virus worries remain
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/12/03 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia's manufacturing recovery continued in November led by a strong performance in China, but business confidence is sputtering across the region as more restrictions are imposed in key external markets amid the unabated spike in coronavirus infections.

Eurozone’s chems producer prices recover in October but remain 4.5% lower year on year
By: Jonathan Lopez LONDON (ICIS)--Chemicals producer prices in the eurozone rose slightly in October month on month but remain well below their October 2019 levels, statistical office Eurostat said on Wednesday.

Chemicals producer prices in the 19-country currency union were in October 4.5% lower than a year prior, while in the wider 27-country EU, prices stood 4.4% lower.

The year-on-year decreases, however, have been narrowing since the falls they posted in May in the midst of European lockdowns to contain the spread of the pandemic.

The year-on-year falls stood in May at 9.4% in the eurozone, and at 9.0% in the EU.

Thailand's Global Green Chemicals starts up new glycerine unit
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/12/02 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Thailand's oleochemicals producer Global Green Chemicals (GGC) started commercial operations at its new 20,000 tonne/year refined glycerine unit on 1 December.

BLOG: Sustainability, the pandemic, demographics and geopolitics – how petchem companies will define their success
By ICIS Editorial 2020/12/02 LONDON (ICIS)--Click here to see the latest blog post on Asian Chemical Connections.

The four megatrends - sustainability, the pandemic, demographics and geopolitics - are reshaping how petrochemicals and other companies must operate.

On sustainability, petrochemicals producers face the twin pressures of refinery closures threatening feedstock supply as brand owners demand packaging made from plastic waste.

TOPIC PAGE: Coronavirus, oil price crash – impact on chemicals
By Will Beacham 2020/12/02 The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) is moving the date for its annual International Petrochemical Conference (IPC) to 23-25 May, it said on Tuesday.

TOPIC PAGE: Automotive – impact on chemicals
By Morgan Condon 2020/12/01 The automotive industry has an important relationship with the chemicals sector while remaining an instrumental force on the global economy as an employment-intensive sector.

In a fast-changing world, automotive manufacturing is susceptible to unique challenges. While vehicle manufacturers are impacted by material prices, trends impacting the market ripple upstream.

VIDEO: China crude stocks in Shandong, Tianjin ports hit 2.5-month low
By Angie Chen 2020/12/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Angie Chen, analyst at ICIS, discusses falling crude stocks at China’s Shandong and Tianjin ports.

  • Crude stocks at lowest since mid-September
  • Inflows down nearly 19% on inclement weather
  • Offtake strong as Shandong teapot refiners run at high rates

AFPM moves US IPC to mid-May from March
By Al Greenwood 2020/12/01 The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) is moving the date for its annual International Petrochemical Conference (IPC) to 23-25 May, it said on Tuesday.

China to launch ICIS-linked PX swap contracts in Q1 2021
By Anna Xiang 2020/12/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China will launch in the first quarter of 2021 a central counterparty clearing in Shanghai for paraxylene (PX) swaps contracts, which will adopt ICIS’ quotes as benchmark for monthly settlement.

The Shanghai Clearing House (SHCH) will use ICIS’ daily PX CFR (cost & freight) CMP (China Main Ports) assessment as basis to generate the monthly average price, after multiplying the central parity rate of Chinese yuan against the US dollar published by the People's Bank of China (PBoC) on the same day.

ExxonMobil to write off as much as $20bn in assets; cuts capex
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/12/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--US energy major ExxonMobil plans to write down as much as $20bn in assets and cut its 2021 capital expenditures (capex) to $16bn-$19bn as it prioritizes investments in chemical performance products in the near term.

Annual capex thereafter until 2025 will be $20bn-25bn, down from the company’s original budget of $30bn-$35bn, the company announced late on Monday.

Caixin's China Nov manufacturing PMI rises to 54.9 as order volumes rise
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/12/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Caixin's China general manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to 54.9 in November from 53.6 in October as order volumes surged following a strong recovery from the coronavirus outbreak earlier in the year, the Chinese media firm said on Tuesday.

"Chinese manufacturers signalled the strongest improvement in operating conditions for a decade in November, as growth of both output and new orders accelerated to 10-year highs," it said.

India plastic processors seek ban/restrictions on raw material exports
By Pearl Bantillo 2020/12/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--The All India Plastics Manufacturers’ Association (AIPM) is seeking an immediate ban or restrictions on exports of raw materials as domestic plastic processors are reeling from the double whammy of surging feedstock prices and demand weakness amid the pandemic.

In a letter to India Prime Minister Narendra Modi dated 26 November 2020, AIPM put forth urgent requests to help save the plastics processing industry following what is considers as a “dramatic and unnatural increase in price of raw material (resin)” by domestic manufacturers.

The group is asking Modi’s government to further consider immediate suspension of any imposition of non-tariff barriers to imports of raw materials; a creation of a petrochemical regulatory body; and a launch of a probe into the price spike in resin prices by local manufacturers.

VIDEO: Asia EVA faces challenges as new capacities come on stream
By Helen Lee 2020/12/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Senior Editor Helen Lee discusses the challenges ahead for the ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) market in Asia as capacity additions loom.

VIDEO: China crude stocks in Shandong, Tianjin ports hit 2.5-month low
By Angie Chen 2020/12/01 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Angie Chen, analyst at ICIS, discusses falling crude stocks at China’s Shandong and Tianjin ports.

US Arcanum begins producing 1-butene at Texas site
By: Adam Yanelli 2020/11/30 HOUSTON (ICIS)--Arcanum has attained successful production of 1-butene at its Baytown complex in Texas, the US-based firm announced on Monday.

BLOG: PP, SM exporters to China seem to have options other than shutdowns, but not PX exporters
By ICIS Editorial 2020/11/30 LONDON (ICIS)--Click here to see the latest blog post on Asian Chemical Connections. Polypropylene (PP) and styrene monomer (SM) exporters to China need to diversify downstream.

This is one answer to the risk that China becomes self-sufficient in both products by 2023-2025.

Asia top stories - weekly summary
By ICIS Editorial 2020/11/30 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Here are the top stories from ICIS News Asia and the Middle East for the week ended 27 November 2020.

China to launch ICIS-linked benzene swap contracts in Q1 2021
China will launch in early 2021 a central counterparty clearing in Shanghai for benzene swaps contracts, which will adopt ICIS’ ex-tank and yuan-denominated quotes as benchmark for monthly settlement.

Asia’s PBR market sees support from feedstock BD, demand and bullish sentiment
Asia’s high-cis polybutadiene rubber (PBR) market is seeing support from the feedstock butadiene (BD) surge and prevailing firm demand amid bullish market sentiment.

Asia petrochemical shares rise on US' Biden transition, vaccine progress
Asian petrochemical shares were mostly higher on Tuesday after US President-elect Joe Biden was given the go-ahead to begin the transition process in the White House, and on news of a third effective coronavirus vaccine.

TOPIC PAGE: Coronavirus, oil price crash – impact on chemicals
By Will Beacham 2020/11/27 Chemicals trade group Cefic is downbeat on European chemical industry performance running into the year end, highlighting the seriousness of the second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak and its expected impact.

PODCAST: Asia, Europe BPA face supply shock and soaring prices
By Heidi Finch 2020/11/27 LONDON (ICIS)--Europe and Asian BPA markets are spiking, amid short supply and rebounding demand.

TOPIC PAGE: Fertilizers - navigating the global downturn
By Deepika Thapliyal 2020/11/27 The sharp global economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the collapse in crude oil prices has wide-ranging implications for the fertilizers industry.

INSIGHT: Europe struggling with second wave lockdowns, EU needs recovery plan
By: Nigel Davis 2020/11/27 LONDON (ICIS)--Chemicals trade group Cefic is downbeat on European chemical industry performance running into the year end, highlighting the seriousness of the second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak and its expected impact.

Other agencies had been more upbeat through the autumn months with the regular data charting the upturn since May. And in their most recent quarterly financial reports, most chemical companies operating in the region were trying to be positive too, pointing to the fact that October had been better than September.

Forward visibility was limited, however, although there was a sense that, for petrochemicals at least, a typical fourth-quarter lull might not be seen this year because of reduced inventories and more 'just in time' buying.

EU chemicals recovery stalls on new restrictions, output down 4.4% - Cefic
By: Morgan Condon 2020/11/27 LONDON (ICIS)--Chemicals output in the EU fell 4.4% in January-September, year on year, while the recovery started in the third quarter has stalled as new restrictions to mobility hit consumer confidence, trade group Cefic said this week.

While the restrictions in major EU countries have not affected chemicals plants' operations, the hit to the economy they have caused is likely to filter down to the sector, said Cefic's director general.

“As widely recognised, the second wave of coronavirus is serious and will likewise impact the chemical business in the upcoming months,” said Marco Mensink.

“This underpins the need for rapid approval and implementation of the EU Economic Recovery Plan, that needs to be firmly embedded in the EU Industrial Strategy, and the Green Deal agenda.”

China Oct industrial profits grow at fastest pace since Mar ’17
By Fanny Zhang 27-Nov-20 14:51 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Profits generated by China’s industrial firms jumped by a sharp 28.2% on year to yuan (CNY) 642.9bn ($98bn) in October, the fastest pace since March 2017, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Friday.

Profits of oil and gas exploration fell by 68.5%, and that for chemical raw material and finished products manufacturing were up by 2.8% in the first 10 months.

PODCAST: Tight supply and robust demand boosts Asia and US ABS markets
By Jasmine Khoo 2020/11/27 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--The acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) market has seen prices rise in both the Asian and US markets due to strong demand and tight supply.

Singapore's Oct chems output slip by 0.8%, overall production down 0.9%
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/11/26 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Singapore's chemicals output fell by 0.8% year on year in October on the back of plant maintenance shutdowns and lower export orders amid the coronavirus pandemic, official data showed on Thursday.

S Korea's central bank keeps key policy rate steady amid steady recovery
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/11/26 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--South Korea's central bank on Thursday kept its benchmark key interest rate unchanged at a record low of 0.5% as the economy has continued to recover at a modest pace despite the recent resurgence of coronavirus cases.

VIDEO: China’s butyl-A prices bottom out on bullish factors
By Sikee Shi 2020/11/26 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Watch industry analyst Sikee Shi discuss developments in the China butyl acrylate (BA) market where prices have surged amid strong export demand.

Saudi Aramco completes issuance of $8bn worth of international bonds
By Pearl Bantillo 2020/11/26 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest crude oil exporter, has completed issuance of international bonds worth $8bn in five tenors.
The bonds are US dollar-denominated and unsecured by assets, the company said in a filing to the Saudi Stock Exchange or Tadawul on 25 November.

Asian petchem shares surge on vaccine hopes, ease in worries over US presidency
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/11/25 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asian shares surged on Wednesday, tracking the rally on Wall Street overnight as the the formal start of Joe Biden’s transition eased worries about the transfer of power in the US presidency.

BLOG: China 2021 PE imports could be as high as 19.8m tonnes or as low as 16.8m tonnes
By ICIS Editorial 2020/11/25 LONDON (ICIS)--Click here to see the latest blog post on Asian Chemical Connections. China's polyethylene (PE) imports in 2021 could total either 19.8m tonnes or 16.8m tonnes under two different scenarios for local demand growth and operating rates.

TOPIC PAGE: Coronavirus and oil price crash – impact on chemicals
By Felicia Loo 2020/11/24 US-listed shares of chemical companies rose sharply on Tuesday, outperforming the market, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average settled above 30,000 for the first time.

PODCAST: Vaccine packaging could boost demand for PP
By Will Beacham 2020/11/24 BARCELONA (ICIS)--Manufacturing hundreds of millions of coronavirus vaccine shots could boost demand for polypropylene (PP), but not enough to compensate for losses in other end use markets.

TOPIC PAGE: Fertilizers - navigating the global downturn
By Deepika Thapliyal 2020/11/24 The sharp global economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the collapse in crude oil prices has wide-ranging implications for the fertilizers industry.

US chem shares spike as Dow Jones breaks 30,000 for first time
By Al Greenwood 2020/11/24 HOUSTON (ICIS)--US-listed shares of chemical companies rose sharply on Tuesday, outperforming the market, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average settled above 30,000 for the first time.

Asia petrochemical shares rise on US' Biden transition, vaccine progress
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2020/11/24 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asian petrochemical shares were mostly higher on Tuesday after US President-elect Joe Biden was given the go-ahead to begin the transition process in the White House, and on news of a third effective coronavirus vaccine.

US gasoline demand to rise due to Thanksgiving, remain below 2019 levels
By Alex Snodgrass 2020/11/23 HOUSTON (ICIS)-- The US gasoline market is expected to see a slight boost in demand due to the Thanksgiving holiday, but the rise will be lower than previous years.

November eurozone manufacturing growth undercut by service sector crunch
By: Morgan Condon 2020/11/23 LONDON (ICIS)--The eurozone private sector slid back into contraction in November with subdued growth in the manufacturing sector unable to stem the decline on the back of an accelerating decline in the service sector, according to analysts from IHS Markit on Monday.

Rising coronavirus infection rates and aggressive measures to prevent the spread of the virus weighed on purchasing manager index (PMI) levels.

This could point to a steep decline in GDP for the year, which Markit anticipates will track a decline of 7.4% which could rise to a 3.7% expansion in 2021.

The composite measure hit its lowest point since May, driven by losses in the service sector as containment measures had the most pronounced impact on customer-facing businesses with declining output and new orders.

Singapore Q3 '20 GDP contracts by 5.8%, manufacturing expands 10%
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2020/11/23 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Singapore's economy fell by 5.8% year on year in the third quarter, moderating from the 13.3% contraction in the previous quarter, official data showed on Monday.

US Senate run-offs will likely determine success of Biden administration’s agenda - economist
By Adam Yanelli 2020/11/20 HOUSTON (ICIS)--The results of two US Senate run-off elections in Georgia in January will likely determine how much of president-elect Joe Biden’s agenda his administration will be able to accomplish, an economist said on Friday.

Europe PET buyers mull higher purchases as logistics costs surge, traders' woes increase
By: Caroline Murray 2020/11/20 LONDON (ICIS)--The European polyethylene terephthalate (PET) market has firmed on the back of surging logistics costs, with higher import offers as the oingong shutdown season has reduced domestic production.

Higher import prices would give European sellers an opportunity to firm prices; on the other hand, buyers remain cautious due to underlying demand patterns.

Turnarounds began earlier than expected, and is now expected to end later than planned due to coronavirus restrictions.

“It [the European market] is short because all the Asian countries are producing and exporting, and not importing, because of Covid-19," a trader said.

"Containers are not coming back empty. There are fewer than usual,” it added.

INSIGHT: Asia petrochemical trades to get strong long-term boost from RCEP
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/11/20 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Petrochemical trades within Asia are expected to get a strong boost over the long term from the recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) - which formed the world’s biggest trade bloc so far.

Japan aims to expand CPTTP free trade deal
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/11/20 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Japan is aiming to expand the 11-member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Friday.

China central bank keeps benchmark loan rate stable for 7th month
By Fanny Zhang 2020/11/20 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China’s central bank maintained its benchmark lending rates stable for the seventh straight month, in line with market expectations.

VIDEO: China’s BPA hit year-to-date high on short supply
By Whitney Shi 2020/11/20 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Watch industry analyst Whitney Shi discuss China's BPA market which has seen prices surging recently on the back of tight supply and strong demand.

NE Asian propylene import talks hold steady amid plant issues
By Jude Chan 2020/11/20 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Propylene supply in Asia is expected to tighten further as major Japanese producer ENEOS Corp plans to shut its cracker in Kawasaki for up to six weeks from early December to resolve a technical glitch.

Pandemic-induced container shortage pressures freight rates from Asia to US, LatAm
By Adam Yanelli 2020/11/19  HOUSTON (ICIS)--Efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) across the globe have disrupted normal trade patterns, causing delays and contributing to higher freight rates from Asia, largely because of a shortage of shipping containers in major export ports.

Global refining industry braces for a volatile outlook
By Janet Miranda 2020/11/19 HOUSTON (ICIS)--As oil and gas continues its slow recovery due to lacklustre demand for gasoline and other refined products, the refining industry is bracing for what could be a volatile outlook in the near future.

Vietnam economy to expand by 2.4% in 2020 - IMF
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2020/11/18 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Vietnam’s economy will grow by 2.4% in 2020 due to its swift fiscal and monetary actions to mitigate the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Wednesday.

Swiss Sika commissions epoxy resins facility in UAE
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2020/11/19 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Sika has commissioned a manufacturing facility in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), which produces epoxy resins aimed at flooring solutions, the Swiss specialty chemicals firm said on Thursday.

Pfizer to seek emergency use authorisation for coronavirus vaccine from US FDA ‘within days’
By: Adam Yanelli 2020/11/18 HOUSTON (ICIS)--US pharmaceutical major Pfizer and German partner immunotherapy specialist BioNTech, announced on Wednesday that a safety milestone has been reached for a coronavirus vaccine.

Vietnam economy to expand by 2.4% in 2020 - IMF
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2020/11/18 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Vietnam’s economy will grow by 2.4% in 2020 due to its swift fiscal and monetary actions to mitigate the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Wednesday.

Feedstocks pressure US etac, demand remains at elevated levels
By Alex Snodgrass 2020/11/17 HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US ethyl acetate (etac) market will continue to face upstream supply issues amid stronger than usual demand to increased coronavirus cases.

Singapore Oct petrochemical exports fall by 15.3%; NODX down 3.1%
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/11/17 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Singapore's petrochemical exports in October fell by 15.3% year on year to Singapore dollar (S$) 1.06bn ($791m), weighing on overall non-oil domestic exports (NODX), which snapped four consecutive months of growth, official data showed on Tuesday.

Petrochemical shipments have been shrinking for 26 straight months, according to data from Enterprise Singapore.

Saudi Aramco plans international bond issuance after Q3 earnings slump
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/11/17 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Saudi Aramco is planning to issue international bonds after its earnings were hit by low oil demand amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The bonds will have maturities of three, five, 10, 30 and/or 50 years, subject to market conditions.

Crude values, US chem shares jump on news of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine
By: Adam Yanelli 2020/11/16 HOUSTON (ICIS)--US drug maker Moderna announced positive results on Monday from its phase 3 trials on a vaccine for the coronavirus, which boosted global oil prices and most shares of US-listed chemical companies.

China, 14 other nations sign RCEP free trade agreement
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2020/11/16 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China and fourteen other Asia-Pacific countries on Sunday signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), forming the world's largest trading bloc.

Asia petrochemical shares surge as world’s largest trade pact signed
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2020/11/16 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asian petrochemical shares were sharply higher on Monday as investors welcomed the signing of the world’s largest trade pact led by China.

Canada Chemtrade swings to Q3 net loss as pandemic affects sales
By: Annalise Porter 2020/11/13 HOUSTON (ICIS)--Chemtrade swung to a net loss during Q3 of Canadian dollar (C$) 48.3m ($36.8m) from the previous quarter as the coronavirus continues to significantly affect demand for the company’s products.

EU, eurozone third-quarter GDP growth revised down
By: Jonathan Lopez 2020/11/13 LONDON (ICIS)--The EU’s GDP grew by 11.6% in the third quarter, compared to the second quarter, a reduction of half percentage point from the first estimate, statical agency Eurostat said on Friday.

The eurozone’s GDP growth stood at 12.6%, revising down its first estimate of 12.7%.

Eurostat published in October preliminary figures for GDP growth.

GDP growth in the third quarter recovered the losses from the second quarter, when most of Europe was under lockdown measures to contain the spread of the pandemic.

However, as the pandemic’s economic hit was already felt in the first quarter, GDP for both the 27-country EU and the 19-country eurozone remains more than 4% lower than a year prior.

PODCAST: Coronavirus vaccine drives oil prices but challenges remain
By: Sophie Udubasceanu 2020/11/13 LONDON (ICIS)--The Pfizer coronavirus vaccine rattled oil prices this week, but the rally slowed down by 12 November. Challenges remain, with widespread distribution now key to demand recovery. Why has the reaction been so strong so far? What does the shift in the oil forward curve indicate? Market experts Sophie Udubasceanu and Richard Price discuss the market’s outlook.

Click on the headline to hear the podcast.

Crude, Asia petrochemical shares fall as coronavirus cases spike
By Pearl Bantillo 2020/11/13 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Crude prices fell on Friday, along with shares of major petrochemical firms in Asia, on demand concerns following continued spikes in coronavirus cases in the US and Europe.

US refinery utilisation dips amid soft demand
By: Michael Sims 2020/11/12 HOUSTON (ICIS)--US refinery rates decreased by 0.8 percentage points in the week ended 6 November, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Thursday.

China, 14 other nations to sign world's largest free trade agreement
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/11/12 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China and fourteen other countries are set to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement on 15 November which aims to progressively cut tariffs and further market access for goods and services.

RCEP is a free trade deal between 10-member ASEAN, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and will account for around a third of the world's GDP and population.

PODCAST: Asia acetone, phenol short-term supply cut, long-term additions pending
By Jasmine Khoo 2020/11/12 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia phenol and acetone participants have been rattled by reduced supply, with South Korea’s Yeosu-based LG Chem’s production heard to have been cut to 60% following last week’s fire, alongside turnarounds at Kumho P&B, Japan’s Mitsui Chemicals, and China’s Formosa Plastics.

VIDEO: China HDPE market to face ample supply in Q4
By Joanne Wang 2020/11/11 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Watch industry analyst Joanne Wang discuss ongoing trends in China's polyethylene (PE) market which is currently oversupplied.

Japan's Mitsui Chemicals April-Sept net income falls amid lower output
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/11/11 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Mitsui Chemicals' net income in the April to September period 2020 fell on the back of lower production amid poorer demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Japanese producer said on Wednesday.

India Oct total vehicle output rises by 35.6%; sales higher
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/11/11 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--India’s overall production of vehicles in October rose by 35.6% amid a sharp rise in two-wheeler output, industry data showed on Wednesday.

Canada’s chem industry hopeful about US Biden presidency, controlling pandemic will be key
By Stefan Baumgarten 2020/11/10 TORONTO (ICIS)--Canada’s chemical industry expects to benefit from the coronavirus (Covid-19) measures and other policy changes US President-elect Joe Biden will be pursuing, the CEO of trade group Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC) told ICIS in an interview on Tuesday.

Asia petrochemical shares spike on vaccine progress; crude falls
By Nurluqman Suratman 10-Nov-20 11:51 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia’s petrochemical shares rose sharply on Tuesday, tracking the overnight rally on Wall Street, as investors cheered encouraging data on a coronavirus vaccine. Trial data on the vaccine being developed by US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech showed that it was 90% effective. The vaccine is expected to be submitted to authorities for emergency approval later this month.

India petrochemical sector upbeat on better US relations under Biden
10 November 2020 9:23 am MUMBAI (ICIS)--India’s petrochemical industry players are upbeat that economic relations with the US will improve under President-elect Joe Biden.  The US was India’s top export destination in the fiscal year 2019-20. A total of $53bn worth of Indian goods went to the US, while imports stood at $35.7bn.

Positive news on Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine boosts US chem shares
By Adam Yanelli 2020/11/09 HOUSTON (ICIS)--Most US-listed shares of chemical companies saw significant gains on Monday as positive news from pharmaceutical major Pfizer on its coronavirus vaccine buoyed financial markets.

Crude up more than $1/bbl, Asia petchem shares higher after Biden wins US presidency
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2020/11/09 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Crude oil prices rose more than $1/bbl and Asian petrochemical shares strengthened on Monday after Joe Biden won the US presidential elections, with investors shrugging off worries about the worsening coronavirus pandemic which has crossed the 50m mark globally.

US CF said urea proven to be resilient during pandemic, projecting strong US ammonia run
By Stefan Baumgarten 2020/11/06 TORONTO (ICIS)--Canada Kuwait Petrochemical Corp’s (CKPC) propane dehydrogenation/polypropylene (PDH/PP) project in Canada’s oil and gas-rich Alberta province remains on hold, subject to further evaluation.

Federal Reserve votes to keep US interest rates near zero
By Adam Yanelli 2020/11/05 HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US Federal Reserve voted on Thursday to hold interest rates at 0-0.25% and committed to keeping rates at current levels until the economy recovers.

Shell to begin shutting down US Convent refinery in Louisiana in November
By Alex Snodgrass 2020/11/05 HOUSTON (ICIS)--Shell said it plans to begin shutting down its 240,000 bbl/day refinery in Convent, Louisiana, in mid-November, making it the largest refinery closure to date due to the coronavirus pandemic.

France industry still growing despite lockdown, China acrylics suffer on wider Asia - Arkema CEO
By: Jonathan Lopez 2020/11/05 LONDON (ICIS)--The four-week lockdown imposed by the French government last week will not bring the economy “to a standstill” like the one in the second quarter, with key downstream sectors operating normally, the CEO at French chemicals major Arkema said on Thursday.

Thierry Le Henaff said France currently accounts for only 8% of company sales, although he conceded the lockdown in the second quarter had greatly affected its operations, especially those of its adhesives and sealants division Bostik.

Arkema published earlier on Thursday its third-quarter results; despite improving from the second quarter, year-on-year sales and income fell sharply.

US Avient glad it did not cancel Clariant deal amid pandemic - CEO
By: Stefan Baumgarten 2020/11/03 HOUSTON (ICIS)--The masterbatch business US polymer materials company Avient acquired from Swiss Clariant is performing well and Avient is glad it did not listen to sceptics who urged it to cancel the deal amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, CEO Robert Patterson said in an update on Wednesday.

US chem shares jump on Election Day as Dow rises 2.06%
By Al Greenwood 2020/11/03 HOUSTON (ICIS)--US-listed shares of chemical companies rose modestly on Tuesday even as the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped by more than 2% on Election Day.

China BD prices hit a year-to-date high in Oct on tight supply, strong demand
By: Dan Lu 2020/11/02 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China’s butadiene (BD) prices have been rising after the National Day holiday (1-8 October), hitting a new high so far this year due to tight spot supply and improved downstream demand.

Marathon saw Q3 demand perform better than expected, more work to be done
By Alex Snodgrass 2020/11/02 HOUSTON (ICIS)--US based refined fuels producer Marathon expects continued refinery rationalisation around the world while the coronavirus continues to pressure demand, the company said in its earnings presentation.

Europe chemicals unfazed by lockdowns but second wave's virulence dents confidence
By: Tom Brown 2020/11/02 LONDON (ICIS)--A second wave of the coronavirus pandemic is touching all corners of Europe, with the east hit hard and lockdown measures implemented across the board as the only way to protect health systems from collapse.

The renewed rapid spread of the virus even threatens now the health system in Germany, a country widely praised so far for its test-and-trace system which had kept cases well under those elsewhere in the eurozone.

Germany, with a population of 80m, has a one-month partial lockdown. Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of a “dramatic situation” in hospitals if the curve of infection is not brought under control.

Crude falls ahead of US elections amid lockdown demand fears
By: James Dennis 2020/11/02 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Crude oil futures were trading more than a dollar lower on Monday after having earlier fallen around 6% to their lowest levels since the end of May.

NE Asia manufacturing recovery set to continue after Oct expansion
By: Nurluqman Suratman 2020/11/02 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Manufacturing conditions in northeast Asia continued to recover in October but external demand in the months ahead could be dampened on fresh lockdowns in the US and Europe as coronavirus infections surge.

Tariffs, delays, construction inflate LyondellBasell PO/TBA costs by 30%
By: Al Greenwood 2020/10/30 HOUSTON (ICIS)--Because of tariffs, delays and construction, LyondellBasell expects that costs will rise by at least 30% for its new propylene oxide/tertiary butyl alcohol (PO/TBA) project, executives said on Friday.

Europe chems cautious on automotive as recovery may be short-lived
By: Katherine Sale 2020/10/30 LONDON (ICIS)--European chemical markets remain cautious over the recent recovery from the key automotive sector, a result mainly of industry restocking, while the pandemic’s second wave hits the region hard.

The automotive sector has been the main area of concern from the end-user markets throughout the pandemic, and was the last to show any signs of life at the end of the first wave.

There has been higher demand from automotive across petrochemicals since September, particularly from polymers that are used for parts production like polycarbonate (PC), polymethyl methacrylate, (PMMA), polypropylene (PP), nylon, and other engineering plastics.

Stronger automotive demand is providing upward pressure in a number of monthly and quarterly contracts talks that are currently taking place.

Eurozone Q3 GDP up nearly 13%, still far from pre-pandemic levels
By  Jonathan Lopez 2020/10/30 LONDON (ICIS)--The eurozone’s GDP rose strongly in the third quarter, up 12.7% quarter on quarter, but the 19-country currency union’s output remains well below year on year, the EU’s statistical agency said on Friday.

The increase was larger than the fall in the second quarter, but GDP had already decreased in the first quarter as the pandemic hit Europe in March and lockdowns started to be implemented.

The pandemic's second wave, hitting Europe hard again, has prompted new restrictions to mobility to slow the spread of coronavirus. These measures could cause a fall in GDP in the fourth quarter, analysts said this week.

VIDEO: Coronavirus a growing concern for Europe R-PET
By: ICIS Editorial 2020/10/30 LONDON (ICIS)--Senior editor for recycling, Matt Tudball, discusses the European recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) outlook for November, including:

  • Post-consumer bottle availability
  • Growing concern around coronavirus impacts amid tightening restrictions
  • Hopes for 2021 improvement

Click on the headline to view the video. 

Indian Oil to boost petrochemical capacity amid uncertain fuel markets
By Priya Jestin 2020/10/30 MUMBAI (ICIS)--State-owned Indian Oil Corp (IOC) plans to increase its petrochemical manufacturing capacity, and will review its greenfield and expansion projects at refineries to ensure enhanced integrated operations.

China SM soars on low supply, strong demand; Dec outlook uncertain
By Tina Zhang 2020/10/30 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China’s domestic styrene monomer (SM) prices surged in October on a combination of low supply, robust demand and strong gains in the futures market.

Middle East petrochemical demand outpaces supply amid turnarounds
By Felicia Loo 29-Oct-20 11:49 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--The Middle East continues to face supply constraints of several petrochemical products due in part to plant shutdowns in exporting regions, while firm demand prevails. On base oil, Iranian producers carried on selling limited spot supply through tenders. The UAE - the main trading hub in the Middle East - is facing a lack of spot cargoes. Compounding the situation, supply constraints in the European base oils export market are set to continue until at least December, as refineries remain sold out of heavier grades.

Demand, on the other hand, is seen stable-to-firm in the next two months.

Asia MEG prices weaken on falling polyester sales; demand may slow down
By Judith Wang 29-Oct-20 16:05 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia import monoethylene glycol (MEG) prices weakened this week amid falling polyester sales, and the market will be likely under pressure as downstream demand may slow gradually amid a second wave of coronavirus infections in overseas markets.

US chem shares plunge as Dow Jones falls 3.43%
By Al Greenwood 2020/10/28 HOUSTON (ICIS)--Chemical shares fell sharply on Wednesday as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 3.43%.

China EPDM spot buying picks up amid prelim ADDs on three origins
By: Helen Yan 2020/10/28 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China’s demand for ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) has picked up momentum, with buyers seeking cargoes for up to January shipments following temporary levies imposed on imports from the US, EU and South Korea.

China to see stable-to-soft Nov base oils demand on lull season
By Whitney Shi 2020/10/27 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--China’s base oils demand is likely to be stable-to-lower in November, several market players said, as the market enters a seasonal lull period.

South Korea's Q3 GDP falls by 1.3% amid lower exports, manufacturing
By Nurluqman Suratman 2020/10/27 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--South Korea's economy fell by 1.3% year on year in July-September this year, improving from the 2.7% contraction in the second quarter, amid a drop in exports and manufacturing, the Bank of Korea said on Tuesday.

US-listed chem stocks decline as Dow Jones falls 2.29%
By Al Greenwood 2020/10/26 HOUSTON (ICIS)--US-listed shares of chemical companies fell on Monday as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell sharply amid worries about a surge in coronavirus cases.

US PX demand poised to increase with MEG restarts
By: Antoinette Smith 2020/10/23 HOUSTON (ICIS)--US paraxylene (PX) demand is poised to increase, as plants for monoethylene glycol (MEG) - which along with PX derivative terephthalic acid (PTA) is used in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) production - return from hurricane-related outages and planned maintenance

Eurozone industry expands in October, job losses continue
By: Jonathan Lopez 2020/10/23 LONDON (ICIS)--The eurozone’s manufacturing growth accelerated in October but unemployment kept rising, while the services sector went into a “steeping contraction” as new pandemic restrictions take a toll, analysts at IHS Markit said on Friday.

Infection rates are exploding in many European countries, with lockdown measures re-introduced in many nations; Germany the only bright spot, said Markit Economics, which compiles the PMI indices (see table).

While the rate of job losses across the 19-country currency union eased in October, forward-looking indicators indicate the recession may still get worse before it gets better: inflows of new business declined, and business optimism fell to its lowest since May

Europe styrene prices climb on higher Asia demand after China holidays
By: Helena Strathearn 2020/10/23 LONDON (ICIS)--Europe styrene spot prices have risen since the start of the month, on higher prices in Asia where demand has jumped after China prices surged after the National Day Golden Week holiday.

Europe spot prices rose by around 14% in the past few weeks, with current month spot prices averaging at around $700/tonne or more – a level that was temporarily reached in mid-July, before falling again. Prior to that, prices were well below that level after the coronavirus-related slump in March.

The hike in Europe prices is almost entirely because of the increase in values in Asia after the 1-8 October holiday in China. Prices there have spiked on eased oversupply pressure and a bullish futures market.

“The styrene market is crazy right now, the Q4 is crazy, crazy,” a trader said this week, referring to the open arbitrage to Asia on strong post-holiday demand there and for pre-Christmas plastics buying.

There has been a pronounced uptick in demand for acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and polystyrene (PS) in Asia.

Asian petrochemicals markets on a roll as China's economy rebounds
By Felicia Loo 23-Oct-20 12:22 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asian petrochemicals markets are on a roll this week, with demand rising and exceeding supply, as China’s economy continues to improve post-holidays (1-8 October) after staging the fastest recovery from Covid-19 as compared to other major economies. Reflecting a stronger Chinese economy, the central bank kept its benchmark lending rate stable for the sixth straight month; the one-year loan prime rate (LPR) and the five-year LPR remained at 3.85% and 4.65%, respectively.

Asia’s BD spot market sees support from domestic China
By Helen Yan 23-Oct-20 15:12 SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia’s butadiene (BD) spot market may continue to see demand outpacing supply in the near term, although buyers have turned cautious and players are adopting a wait-and-see stance, following the price surge in the Chinese domestic market. The surge in the Chinese domestic market has seen upward pressure in the US dollar-denominated market.


ICIS chemicals coronavirus Impact Demand Model November 2020 by willbeacham on Scribd