For the Quarter Ending June 2021
Prices of Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPE) fluctuated in a narrow range in Q2 as the demand from downstream automotive sector reduced in the second half of the quarter. Despite of the strong economic recovery in USA, the demand for TPE remained low due to reduced offtakes from the automotive sector after global shortage of semiconductor chips weighed over the regional production. While the performance of the electronics sector remained stable throughout the quarter, it did not put any significant impact on the TPE demand in the meantime. Surge in raw material prices remained the key concern of the regional producers.
Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPE) demand in Asia fluctuated month over month and varied with the country dynamics during this timeframe. In China, the demand improved initially in the first half of the quarter, which later reduced due to the sudden surge in pandemic cases in the country. This sudden surge in pandemic cases also reduced the global availability of semiconductor chips, which eventually led to slackening automotive production and lesser TPE requirement. Meanwhile in India, the demand remained muted during the month of May, as the country struggled to control the second wave of pandemic through state-wise lockdown measures. Prices of TPE rebounded in June with the resumption in economic activities in the country. Showing an effective bounce back, the price of TPE in India hovered around USD 2728/MT during June 2021.
The European TPE market fluctuated with the demand movement seen across the regional automotive sector. While the demand remained low initially during the month of April, it later started improving with the pick in the demand patterns. A leading player reported reduced Thermoplastic elastomers sales in Q2 primarily due to maintenance works at one of its sites in Voronezh. The effect of global semiconductor chips shortage also affected the European market. The quarter ended with ExxonMobil Corp. announcing divestment of its Santoprene TPV elastomer business to Celanese, a ley strategic move to reduce its debt.
For the Quarter Ending March 2021
North American Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) market faced shortage of feedstock chemicals under the extreme cold conditions. Several feedstocks as well as TPE producers including Kuraray’s, declared force majeure in February, as the weather conditions were not favourable for plant operations. On the other hand, Radici declared an investment of USD 40 million in the global expansion of its high-performance polymers including TPE. In February, a leading TPE manufacturer announced price increases of nearly USD 150 per MT for its Thermoplastic Elastomers sold in North America in response to strengthening demand for its products and increased freight energy and raw material prices.
The Asian market had mixed sentiments for Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) as the demand remained moderate to low, amid the supply crunch. During Chinese lunar holidays, as the supply remained short across the region, prices of TPE in the Indian market rose affectively till February end but later came down as the supply started improving gradually. Similar price trend was observed by the Chinese market where price came down from USD 2551 per MT in January to USD 2466 per MT in March end. In addition, Tokyo based company “Zeon” increased prices of their TPE product named “Quintac” by USD 500/MT, the prices came into effect from 1st March 2021 globally.
The European demand for Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) remained moderate to low, as the second wave of Covid 19 caused sudden surge in cases and reduced the demand from end users. Hence affected the prices, lower demand lowered down the prices across the region. In addition, Ninhnekamskneftekhim (NKNKH), one of the largest Russian petrochemical producers started production of TPE, is likely to enhance the supply of TPE across the region.
For the Quarter Ending December 2020
The fourth quarter performance remained resilient for the Asian engineered polymers producers especially those producing TPE. Sales numbers reported double digit increases over the previous quarter for a leading Asian producer based in Japan. In December, Trinseo inaugurated a pilot plant in Hsinchu, Taiwan for the production of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) and bio-based plastics dedicated to serving its Asian clients. China showed strong volume development in the automotive sector during Q4. With many Asian economies rebounding from the pandemic induced slowdown and rising indications form the automotive sector, players seemed cautiously accelerating output. Prices across the Indian markets seemed tepid under rising consumer pressure ahead of the festive season to settle around USD 2570 per tonne in December.
Thermoplastic Elastomers market remained shrouded with dullness amid economic slowdown and fragile market conditions. Closures of automotive factories and persistently weaker dynamics in the downstream sectors hard hit the region raising expectations that activity in Europe may continue to slow even in Q1 2021 if the effect of the pandemic does not reduce soon. During the fourth quarter, Sibur planned to ramp up production at its new 50 KTPA TPE manufacturing unit established in April in Voronezh. Russia reported a some QoQ increment in the performance of its elastomer sector pushed by positive dynamics in prices due to better sales. Manufacturing activity showed some growth in demand buoyed by the increased offtakes from the medical and consumer electronics sector.
The fourth quarter showed mixed results for the American TPE industry with the industry mainly facing higher pricing from the pass through of raw materials. Key drivers of the upward price trajectory included plant outages at some upstream facilities prompting tighter feedstock and resin availability. An American polymer giant reported the acquisition of Germany-based TPE business to expand its regional presence. Demand showed marked uptrend in the US due to pick-up in the automotive manufacturing and growing prospects for light vehicle production in 2021.