For the Fourth Quarter of 2021
The Asia-Pacific region's market observed varied sentiments from different countries during the fourth quarter of 2021. Due to increased demand from downstream sectors such as synthetic dyes, agrochemicals, PU foams, and so on, prices in China climbed in the third quarter. Furthermore, the strong price of benzene, the raw ingredient, supported the aminobenzene pricing trend. As a result, FOB Qingdao prices were expected to be 1655 USD/MT in December. In India, Aminobenzene market sentiment remained unfavourable, and prices fell sharply as a result of plentiful supplies and weaker downstream buying impulse. As a result, Ex-Mumbai prices dropped from 2132.16 USD/MT in October to 2025.45 USD/MT in December.
Prices rose in the fourth quarter of 2021 in Europe. Aminobenzene prices were supported throughout this time period by strong feedstock benzene values owing to dynamic feedstock crude oil fundamentals. Furthermore, significant demand from downstream MDI makers led the price increase. Furthermore, due to acute energy shortages, many local companies were forced to curtail output levels, resulting in supply constraints and, as a result, inflated chemical prices in this quarter.
As the demand scenario altered, prices in the United States saw conflicting sentiments in the fourth quarter of 2021. The price appeared to be rising in October, boosted by strong demand and limited supply. The price of benzene was pushed up by the high price of the feedstock benzene. In November, prices dropped slightly as freight costs declined and supply improved. However, the chemical's fundamentals improved in December as a result of increased demand from downstream sectors such as MDI and volatility in crude oil prices.
For First, Second and Third Quarters of 2021
Despite feedstock chemical supply difficulties, demand from the domestic downstream sector remained stable in the first quarter of 2021 in Asia. Due to lower stock levels following the Lunar holidays and high demand from downstream MDI and ink producers, prices in the Chinese market surged rapidly, resulting in a 64 percent increase in average FOB prices for the quarter, which finally settled at 2013.34 USD/MT at the end of March. Benzene scarcity and a lack of Chinese supply, assisted by rising crude oil costs, drove prices up 5.8% in the Indian market from January to March.
The Asian Aminobenzene market was flat in the second quarter, with demand fundamentals remaining tight. Traders were concerned despite the ongoing decline in Aminobenzene pricing in China, as prices were still 120 percent higher year on year. Stock levels were reduced as a result of several temporary shutdowns and plant restarts, such as those at Dongying Huatai and Jinling Dongying. Traders were apprehensive about an unexpected rise in pandemic cases in India, which impeded demand from both China and India. Due to weak demand fundamentals, Indian producers operated at 30% to 40% capacity during this time period. Aminobenzene prices in India and China hovered about 2113 USD/MT and 1640 USD/MT, respectively, towards the end of May, as a result of the effective decline.
Due to a spike in the price of feedstock benzene, Aminobenzene prices in Asia surged in the third quarter. Another reason contributing to the increase was congestion at numerous Chinese ports as a result of the shutdown of Ningbo port, the world's third busiest port, due to the zero-tolerance coronavirus policy, which caused a supply chain disruption. Several nations that import Aminobenzene from China, such as India, the United States, Japan, Hungary, and Belgium, saw Aminobenzene prices rise dramatically during the quarter. From July to September, the price of Aminobenzene ex-Mumbai grew by 210.52 USD/MT, eventually settling at 2194.99 USD/MT in September.
Prices rose in Q1 2021 due to increased demand from downstream MDI makers and a serious lack of feedstock chemicals. European manufacturers were obliged to increase their exports to other continents such as Asia due to a scarcity of supplies from the US Gulf Coast to the global market. The congested structure of trade routes, along with high freight costs, helped to drive up Aminobenzene prices across the region.
Prices in Europe increased dramatically in the second quarter of 2021, owing to strong demand from both domestic and foreign markets. Benzene influenced the cost of various downstream products, including Aminobenzene, which influenced the US market.
Due to the energy crisis, the Aminobenzene market outlook saw an exponential spike in pricing in Q3 2021, backed by a fall in manufacturing rates by numerous sectors. Furthermore, downstream demand for Aminobenzene remained strong throughout this decade.
A rare cold snap hit the North American market for the chemical in the first quarter of 2021, halting production across Texas. The lengthy supply limitation of feedstock chemicals, including Aminobenzene, that has been in place since Q4 2020 was given a lift by this exceptional weather disruption, which boosted average prices and contributed to an 8.75 percent increase within the quarter, bringing it to 1400 USD/MT by March-end. Due to weather conditions, the bulk of downstream MDI manufacturing plants were shut down during this time. Covestro announced force majeure on its MDI plant, as well as other production units in Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi, lowering demand for the chemical in the region and averting additional price hikes.
In the second quarter of 2021, prices were volatile, as downstream producer demand remained high in the first part of the quarter but gradually declined in the second. In terms of demand, the automobile industry showed strong sentiments during the quarter, resulting in higher demand for Aminobenzene derivatives in the US. Reduced automotive production due to material supply difficulties, on the other hand, had an influence on demand in the second half. As a result, prices decreased in June after gaining traction in the previous quarter, settling at 1350 USD/MT in Texas, USA. Furthermore, when the availability of feedstock benzene rose dramatically, increased industrial operations in the Gulf of Mexico effectively contributed to this decline.
Prices continued to grow in the third quarter of 2021 due to a scarcity of feedstock benzene. Due to power disruptions along the United States' Gulf Coast, most manufacturing plants and petrochemical refineries remained shut for over two weeks at the end of August. It not only slowed the production process, but it also disturbed the supply chain, resulting in a chemical shortage as well as downstream items. PBF Energy's benzene factory and Rubican's Aminobenzene and MDI production operations in Louisiana were both shut down as a result of the hurricane.
For the Year 2020
Due to robust demand for methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI), which was a major contributor to better margins, Asia's demand surpassed Q2 levels in the third quarter. Due to elevated buying attitudes, the Chinese Aminobenzene plant's operating levels have been high since mid-June. Many Southeast Asian manufacturers are stepping up output in anticipation of the Christmas season, indicating a strong recovery in the PU foams industry, which is used in furniture and appliances. Demand from India's pharmaceutical industry remained strong throughout the third quarter, with numerous market players getting import orders from the United States.
The market remained under pressure as the second wave of COVID-19 hit the European Union in the third quarter of 2020. Demand for the chemical from the downstream sectors of automotive and construction remained modest as the economy struggled with the slump. As repeated reports of downstream MDI plant turnarounds in the region pushed the demand side even higher, the pricing curve remained strong. Its use was also impacted by production interruptions at many car factories. In the third quarter, Borsod Chem announced that production at its new 200 KTPA Aminobenzene factory in Hungary will commence by the same time the following year.
Domestic demand rebounded sharply, led by a large recovery in PU demand from the construction and automobile sectors, which had been in the doldrums during the second quarter of 2020 due to the US's toughest coronavirus-related economic activity limitations. As a result of logistical difficulties and plant closures induced by Hurricane Laura in several US provinces, end-use markets faced supply restrictions. MDI producers' consumption has risen dramatically, with better sales numbers reported from consumer durables and home appliances.
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