London (GC Intelligence) — Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) Asian imports to Europe in 2019 increased and were being offered at competitive prices as the arbitrage remained open.
The increase in imports were adding pressure on an already oversupplied market.
The European market has been long since the end of 2018 on the back of lower demand after the global economic slowdown.
The absence of signs of a recovery in demand in Europe and Asia means that probably ABS supply will remain long in the short term and possibly for the rest of 2019.
Monthly ABS prices for all grades increased around €70/mt from March to April. The price increase was the same as the combined cost increases, which means margins did not change for producers.
Asian importers and European sellers were understood to be struggling to meet sales targets as demand was soft. ABS imports represent around 35-40% of the European market, big enough to cause disruptions to supply when trade patterns shift.
Demand so far in 2019 has been lower than in 2018. There is little to suggest this situation will revert. Waning car sales, tariff disputes and Brexit were still major headwinds to growth.
Amid this heightened uncertainty, buyers continued to live hand-to-mouth.