Summary of 2024 Americas Outlook stories

ICIS Editorial

16-Jan-2024

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Here are the ’24 Americas Outlook stories which ran on ICIS news throughout December and January.

Click on a headline to read the full story.

OUTLOOK ’24: US economy poised for soft landing – will chemicals see a restocking bump?
A year ago, just about every economist called for a US recession, and for good reason. Inflation was out of control, interest rates were headed higher and growth was slowing dramatically. But 2023 was a year of resilience, driven by the strong labor market and US consumer.

OUTLOOK ’24: US ABS, PC demand weakness lingers
The 1.5-year demand decline in US acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and polycarbonate (PC) markets may bottom out in 2024.

OUTLOOK ’24: US BDO starts new year amid weak derivative demand
US 1,4 butanediol  (BDO) is set to start 2024 after a year of suppressed demand and five straight quarters of contract price declines.

OUTLOOK ’24: Global oversupply to pressure PE margins, US to remain advantaged
The global polyethylene (PE) industry will continue to face a significant supply overhang in 2024, as recent capacity additions have well exceeded demand growth. Demand from emerging Asian economies, especially, has failed to keep pace with expectations, although most major global PE markets faced recessionary or near recessionary conditions in 2023.

OUTLOOK ’24: Lat Am PE to remain oversupplied, demand recovery pushed back
Polyethylene (PE) markets in Latin America are set to continue being oversupplied in 2024 while demand is expected to grow at a slower rate than expected.

OUTLOOK ’24: Demand likely to be lukewarm for US IPA, MEK amid weak housing sector
Demand for methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) and isopropanol (IPA) is likely to be lukewarm amid a soft housing construction market and with lower GDP growth forecasts, but with destocking largely over, some restocking could be forthcoming.

OUTLOOK ’24: US PP margins to face pressure amid global oversupply
US polypropylene (PP) margins are likely to face pressure in 2024 as a global oversupply in the PP industry is likely to keep pricing and margins depressed globally. According to the ICIS Supply and Demand Database, global PP capacity has increased by 26.1% over the past five years while PP demand rose by 15.2% over the same time period, resulting in a significant supply overhang.

OUTLOOK ’24: Lat Am’s PP demand to remain sluggish, imports to keep rising
Demand for polypropylene (PP) in Latin America is unlikely to recover in the first half of 2024, with market participants expecting demand to be low in the first quarter.

OUTLOOK ’24: US acrylonitrile demand weakness to continue
The two-year demand decline in US acrylonitrile (ACN) markets may continue well into 2024.

OUTLOOK ’24: US chem tanker market tight into H1; headwinds from Panama drought, Middle East tensions
The US liquid chemical tanker shipping market is expected to remain tight into the first half of the year, container rates are likely to be steady at near-pre-pandemic levels, and drought conditions in Panama and geopolitical unrest in the Middle East are likely to create additional headwinds for shippers in the coming year.

OUTLOOK ’24: US benzene to face softness in derivative demand; lowered crude oil forecasts
US benzene is experiencing soft demand in Q4 ’23, as derivative demand remains weak.

OUTLOOK ’24: US toluene, MX demand and premiums over RBOB to remain strong
US toluene and mixed xylenes (MX) demand is expected to remain strong in 2024 due to a combination of supply shortages and ongoing strength in octane demand.

OUTLOOK ’24: US PX consumption could improve in Q2 2024 on bottle-grade PET summer demand
US paraxylene (PX) consumption will likely remain poor through Q1 of 2024, however, the market is expected to experience an uptick in consumption in Q2 as downstream bottle-grade polyethylene terephthalate (PET) prepares for the peak summer season.

OUTLOOK ’24: Melamine restocking may take place in H1 depending on the US economy performance
The just-in-time purchasing strategy implemented this year caused the ICIS market prices for US melamine contracts to decline in the first and second quarters, before stabilizing in the third quarter due to a rollover.

OUTLOOK ’24: Chem shares start new year on high note
US-listed shares of chemical companies will start the new year on a high note after rallying in the final weeks of 2023 with the rest of the nation’s stock market on the expectations that inflation is getting under control and that the Federal Reserve could start lowering interest rates.

OUTLOOK ’24: US ethylene market to navigate challenging start to new year
The US ethylene market is expected to remain long throughout the first half of 2024, facing headwinds from weak demand, ample supply and a sluggish economy. While unit maintenance will tighten supply some, significant improvement in supply/demand is not anticipated until at least the second half of next year.

OUTLOOK ’24: Soft housing market to weigh on US etac demand
Demand for US ethyl acetate (etac) in 2024 could face headwinds from a slow residential construction market, but steady demand from adhesives, packaging, and printing inks could be enough to maintain a floor.

OUTLOOK ’24: US R-PET market split by impact of imports, despite ratable consumer goods PCR content progress
Despite the beginning of a new year, the US recycled polyethylene terephthalate (R-PET) market is bracing for a continuation of lackluster demand, responding to the pressure from global economic weakness and increasing import competition.

OUTLOOK ’24: US epoxy resins at critical point as weak demand erodes margins
US epoxy resins players are turning their attention to 2024 with hope that overall demand will improve, but most are unable to point to any factors that can drive growth.

OUTLOOK ’24: Feedstock and demand headwinds weighing on US MMA
US methyl methacrylate (MMA) players are wondering how feedstocks and demand will shape up going into 2024, but sentiment is not particularly positive.

OUTLOOK ’24: US propylene market unsettled on tight supply
The US propylene market faces supply constraints entering the new year that threaten to keep prices volatile. But demand is expected to continue to be tepid, which will add some stability to the tight market.

OUTLOOK ’24: After lackluster 2023, US glycol ethers, butac demand may benefit from potential rate cuts
Both US butyl acetate (butac) and glycol ethers have experienced lukewarm demand in 2023 due to headwinds facing key end-use markets.

OUTLOOK ’24: US acrylate demand expected to face more favorable conditions
After facing soft demand for much of 2023, US glacial acrylic acid (GAA) and acrylate esters prices rose following a Q4 increase in propylene prices. Though demand remains lackluster in December, it could be gradually boosted in 2024.

OUTLOOK ’24: US aromatic, aliphatic solvents sentiment moderately optimistic
In line with a somewhat tepid view a year ago, the outlook for US aromatic and aliphatic solvents for H1 2024 is guardedly optimistic.

OUTLOOK ’24: US PS demand likely to remain subdued in 2024
Demand for US polystyrene (PS) is expected to remain subdued into the next year amid expectations of another year of sluggish GDP growth along with interpolymer substitution pressures.

OUTLOOK ’24: Lat Am PS pressured by slow manufacturing, single-use plastics regulations
The Latin American polystyrene (PS) market will continue to face challenges in 2024 as manufacturing in most countries remains slow and regulations against single-use plastics increase.

OUTLOOK ’24: US EPS market to face continued weakness in new year
The outlook for expandable polystyrene (EPS) in the new year is weak, at least in first half of the year, as the same issues that challenged the market in 2023 will continue.

OUTLOOK ’24: US nylon demand weak amid manufacturing contraction
Demand decline in US nylon markets which started in Q3, 2022 will continue in H1 2024. ICIS economists are forecasting a soft landing of US economy with recovery starting in H2 2024.

OUTLOOK ’24: US caustic soda starts New Year with sentiment of slimmer demand, price increase nominations
US liquid caustic soda starts 2024 with producers taking action to address the threat of oversupply amid weak demand and price declines.

OUTLOOK ’24: Latin America caustic soda market focusing on new initiatives in H1
Latin American countries are poised to sustain a strong dependence on exports from the United States in H1. Anticipating a challenging domestic market, US producers plan to prioritize exports in 2024 based on the prevailing economic outlook.

OUTLOOK ’24: US acetic acid, VAM supply tightness to improve in H1
US acetic acid and derivative vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) supply remains limited, but the tightness should continue to improve throughout H1.

OUTLOOK ’24: US styrene expected to face continued headwinds
The US styrene market is expected to continue to see weak demand and sufficient supply into the new year and will generally follow current macroeconomic trends.

OUTLOOK ‘24: After slow 2023, US TiO2 demand demand hinges on rate cuts
North American titanium dioxide (TiO2) demand has been weak for much of the past year, with a soft housing market amid elevated interest rates. However, the US Federal Reserve has recently signaled there could be multiple rate cuts in 2024, which could boost demand for key consumer sectors involving paints and coatings.

OUTLOOK ’24: US soda ash sees growing supply, slower demand and lower contract prices
US soda ash enters 2024 with hopes of a rebalancing of supply and demand and a more stable market and lower prices following three years of supply and demand surges and retreats and record price increases for the once staid and mature commodity.

OUTLOOK ’24: Feedstock concerns, margin compression to underpin US fatty acids, alcohols markets
Feedstock concerns and margin compression will continue to underpin US fatty acids and fatty alcohols markets in 2024 as demand headwinds persist in the first half of the year.

OUTLOOK ’24: US phenol demand to stay weak, pressuring acetone supply
US phenol demand will likely remain weak and weigh on acetone supply in H1 2024 as no major factors are evident that could drive growth.

OUTLOOK ’24: US polyurethane demand outlook to remain subdued into 2024
Demand for polyurethane systems in the US is expected to remain subdued moving into the new year as the US and global economies are expected to continue to struggle with macroeconomic headwinds.

OUTLOOK ’24: US HCl heads into 2024 with slowing oilfield demand and gloomy economic outlook
US hydrochloric acid (HCl) ends 2023 with recent slimmer supply and slightly firming prices, but enters 2024 in a more balanced market with wavering demand.

OUTLOOK ’24: After weak demand for much of ’23, US MPG pressured by rising feedstocks
After declining for much of the past year, mono propylene glycol (MPG) contract prices have risen in consecutive months, with several rounds of separate price increase nominations emerging in Q4 ‘23.

OUTLOOK ’24: US base oils markets look for return of demand
US base oils markets appear poised for ample supplies with buyers continued focus on just-in-time procurement as trade flows adjust to new legislation in 2024.

OUTLOOK ’24: US paraffin wax market may continue to face demand challenges along with ample supply in H1 2024
A certain amount of demand and feedstock cost volatility could cause some price fluctuations for US slack wax in H1 2024.

OUTLOOK ’24: US fuels demand to soften amid poor macroeconomic conditions
US demand for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel is expected to fall in 2024 due to the likelihood of recessionary economic conditions.

OUTLOOK ’24: Ample supply of US fuel, industrial ethanol expected in H1 on increased production
US fuel and industrial ethanol markets are likely to be well supplied in 2024 on increased production and record corn crops, with pricing likely to be determined based on upstream costs and economic conditions.

OUTLOOK ’24: Brazil fuel parity fluctuating in H1 on crude oil price trend
Brazil expectations point to a slight decline in hydrous ethanol prices during the first half, aiming to boost competition with gasoline, as the parity remains more favorable to biofuel in Q4.

OUTLOOK ’24: LatAm petchems to remain at mercy of China amid slowing economies
Latin American petrochemicals are to remain ‘price takers’ in the global market and dependent on China’s overcapacities and that country’s success in reviving its own manufacturing sectors.

OUTLOOK ’24: INSIGHT: Regulatory surge, CFATS, EV incentives in play for US chems
In 2024, the US chemical industry could see an attempt to revive the industry’s main anti-terrorism program, an attempt at further permit reform and a last-ditch effort by the president to push through regulations before the elections in November.

OUTLOOK ’24: US BD import needs decrease as demand shifts, SBR stays weak
The US is expected to have limited need for imported butadiene (BD) in 2024 and exports to Asia are likely to continue, especially if demand for derivatives such as styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) remains weak.

OUTLOOK ’24: US R-PE battles direct and indirect demand destruction from long virgin PE market
The US recycled polyethylene (R-PE) market braces for continued weakness in order volumes across both sustainability-driven and cost-sensitive demand for both post-consumer and post-industrial recycled high-density polyethylene (R-HDPE) and recycled low-density polyethylene (R-LDPE) in 2024.

OUTLOOK ’24: US MA cautiously pessimistic amid lackluster demand
US maleic anhydride (MA) is cautiously pessimistic going into 2024 amid lackluster demand and economic uncertainty.

OUTLOOK ’24: US methanol discounts reach unprecedented levels
US methanol supply is expected to remain ample into the new year as the demand side remains seasonally slower.

OUTLOOK ’24: Low water levels on Mississippi River unlikely to negatively impact PA, OX supply
Low water levels along the Mississippi River are unlikely to negatively impact phthalic anhydride (PA) and orthoxylene (OX) supply due to low demand as a result of seasonality, coupled with economic headwinds, including elevated interest and mortgage rates, as well as lingering high inflation.

OUTLOOK ’24: US plasticizers stay focused despite varying demand in H1
The market outlook for plasticizers in H1 2024 remains somewhat gloomy due to the ongoing effects of inflation and interest rates in industries in the niches of electronics, construction, automotive, and packaging.

OUTLOOK ’24: US PVC starts new year with bullish stance, pending capacity expansions
US polyvinyl chloride (PVC) starts the new year with an abrupt exit from one of the worst years for demand and value preservation since the credit market wreckage of 2009.

OUTLOOK ’24: Latin America PVC production exceeding local demand in H1
The complete recovery of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) demand in Latin America is not anticipated in the first half of 2024.

OUTLOOK ’24: US feedstocks to face headwinds
Overall demand for US feedstocks is relatively low heading into 2024 amid falling ethane demand and potential macroeconomic headwinds.

OUTLOOK ’24: US glycerine supplies to remain ample in H1 despite mixed biofuels landscape
US glycerine supplies are largely expected to remain ample in H1 2024, despite a structural decrease in installed US biodiesel capacity, as sustained strong biodiesel production in Indonesia and lackluster demand in China threaten to once again flood the US with excess supplies from southeast Asia.

OUTLOOK ’24: US EG export volumes, production rates could be negatively impacted by Panama Canal backlog
US ethylene glycol (EG) exports and production rates could be negatively impacted by the disruptions at the Panama Canal. Recently, the Panama Canal Authority (PCA) announced it would slash the number of vessels allowed to transit the waterway daily through 1 February 2024, as recent drought persists.

OUTLOOK ’24: PET, PTA demand could pick up in Q2 ahead of peak summer season
Bottle grade US polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and purified terephthalic acid (PTA) demand could pick up in the second quarter of 2024 as the market expects to begin preparing for peak bottled beverage season during the summer months.

OUTLOOK ’24: Weather, Asia offers in H1 continue to have direct impact on PET prices in Latin America
Increased import tariffs and economic uncertainties persist in influencing the quantities of PET exported from Asia to Latin America in 2023 and this trend will continue in 2024. Asia will remain committed to the global market to align with supply and demand dynamics, with ample materials accessible in H1, predominantly directed towards the west coast of South America. Despite the existence of import tariffs on Chinese resin in Mexico and Brazil, Asia’s offerings continue to exert pressure on prices in Latin America in the short term.

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