Asia’s Methyl methacrylate (MMA) spot prices have slipped from record highs following twelve weeks of price stability, snapping the uptrend observed over the past two years.
Methyl methacrylate (MMA) markets in Asia have risen significantly across 2018 by around 9-11% for small cargoes and bulk cargoes, before reaching peak levels between June and August.
On the demand front, sustained losses in downstream markets such as polymethyl methacrylate(PMMA) exerted further downward pressure on MMA in Asia, especially with the narrow spread between PMMA and Methyl methacrylate (MMA).
Buying momentum slowed down slightly amid the US-China trade tensions, which may change trade flow and import costs if tariffs set in for related products.
Some consumers are likely to hold back and watch the situation.
Regional supply is seen as largely mixed. Some suppliers were unable to offer much spot volumes and allocated limited quantities to regular users, in order to hold sufficient inventories for ongoing and upcoming planned turnarounds.
The series of planned turnarounds across the quarter would result in lowered production, but affected producers are typically expected to have prepared sufficient material for the respective shutdowns.
In terms of trade flow, tightness in US markets could prompt some buyers to seek cargoes from Asia.
“Although the prices in US are higher than those in Asia, other markets such as Europe and Asia have shown signs of weakening. The long shipping time required [to US] would also make people think twice about purchasing from Asia,” a trader said.
In Europe, domestic supply is currently balance whereas demand has been either in line or below expectations, with spot prices broadly on a downtrend.
Weak China domestic sectors, on the other hand, may translate in exports going towards the rest of Asia, sources said.
The supply-demand balance could be easily tilted, depending on key factors such as downstream performance, regional production levels and price fluctuations in different global markets.
Industry participants are expected to remain cautious and observe whether further price decreases would be sustainable in Asia.
Methyl methacrylate (MMA) is used in the manufacture of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), acrylic sheets, surface coatings, emulsion polymers and adhesives.
(Top image: PMMA Iis widely used to make television screens)
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