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EU CONSUMER CONFIDENCE IMPROVES SLIGHTLY
consumer confidence

EU consumer confidence improves slightly in October versus September likely due to an ease in panic over a looming energy crisis.

The European Commission‘s indicator showed an increase of 0.6 percentage points.

The increase is encouraging but overall the indicator remains close to its record low level. This was established last month.

The war fuelling inflation has reduced consumer confidnece this year. The indicator slumped in March after the start of the war, showing mostly negative readings since then.

EU consumer confidence

Worries persist over the war and inflation which is now spreading throught the economy and beyond energy and food. However, some events have so far eased the loss in confidence.

These include: gas stock levels in Europe reaching more than 92% of capacity; proposed measures from the EU to cap price volatility; and countries enacting plans to help households with energy bills. These factors most certainly helped to ease the hightened anxiety over severe shortages and spikes in energy bills this winter.

The persistent increase in energy costs for most of this year has fueled inflation. It has also placed considerable strain on businesses and household budgets.

The polymer industry has certainly felt the impact of the higher energy costs and inflation this year. Demand has decreased considerably in all market segments. The loss of competitiveness against imports has worsened the situation. And many players along value chains are heavily reducing operating rates in line with a slump in demand.

Some of the worst hit markets include Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), Polypropylene (PP), and Nylon Engineering Resins (PA6 and PA66).

It is possible that Europe will avoid an enegy crisis and therefore confidence will continue to improve. But the unpredictability of the war make any such forecast highly unreliable.

There could be more downside surprises ahead. One of which is a cold snap drawing down gas stocks which countries will struggle to replenish next year with alternative sources of supply.

The positive reading of consumer confidence this month is certainly encouraging, but there will be little surprise if next month the indicator is back in the red.

TRINSEO MULLS CLOSURE OF STYRENE PLANT
chemical plant

Trinseo mulls closure of its styrene monomer plant located in Boehlen, Germany, with capacity of 300 ktpa, according to a recent press release.

The company said the plant generated losses in the last four quaters to Q2 2022 of around $30 million.

 “Given the current economic outlook of higher inflation, lower customer demand and elevated energy costs, we are evaluating asset optimization across our portfolio,” said Frank Bozich, President and CEO of Trinseo.

“In addition to improved profitability for Trinseo, we believe a closure will aid in achieving our 2030 sustainability goals, as Boehlen is one of our most carbon intensive plants,” said Frank Bozich.

The company has been in consultation with the Works Council of Trinseo Deutschland GmbH on the possible closure of the plant.

Styrene monomer is the main feedstock for the production of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and polystyrene (PS).

TRINSEO ANNOUNCES PRICE DECREASES FOR ABS
market turmoil

Trinseo announces price decreases for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), according to a note on its website.

The announcement states that the decrease of €20/mt will be effective from 1 October 2022.

At the same time, Trinseo announced an increase of €60/mt for its PC/ABS.

The announcements come against a backdrop of weak demand and competitive imports in Europe, particularly for ABS.

However, soaring energy costs are placing pressure not only on ABS but on all polymers. In some cases this is leading to increases, despite the weak demand.

ABS PRICES DECREASED €250/MT IN AUGUST

ABS prices decreased €250/mt in August in Europe, according to GC Intelligence assessments. Values remained under pressure due to seasonal trends, lower demand, and competitive imports.

While the decrease acrylonitrile butadiend styrene (ABS) prices was not as much as the combined decrease of raw material prices, rising energy costs prevented gains in margins.

As seen in most polymers, ABS prices surged after the good demand during the pandemic and then again because of the war pushing up overall costs.

Moreover, fear of uncertainty over the war probably influenced some stock build. Since the war started, however, demand has been
going down in Europe at an accelerating pace as the higher energy prices fuelled inflation.

What is more, the competitiveness of Asian imports has also increased in line with the
slump in demand in China.

Prices and margins in August have remained under considerable pressure. This is expected to continue albeit ease somewhat as buying should increase after the holiday period in September.

INEOS AND SINOPEC FORM A JV TO PRODUCE AND SELL ABS

INEOS and Sinopec form a 50/50 joint venture (JV) to build and sell ABS in China. The JV will build a 1.2m mt/year ABS plant for the growing Chinese market.

The acrylonitriel butadiene styrene (ABS) plant located in Ningbo, China, is under construction and is planned to start in 2023.

Steve Harrington, CEO INEOS Styrolution, comments: “The collaboration with SINOPEC allows us to continue to grow in China in fast-forward mode.”

Rob Buntinx, President APAC at INEOS Styrolution, adds: “We are particularly excited that our Terluran® ABS is the basis for this cooperation. “

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