The orthoxylene market has had a strong start to 2021, where the US and Europe have both seen healthy demand and prices have shown increases. Demand has been showing a month on month recovery from the low point seen in 2020. When the pandemic first hit the West in Spring 2020 most end-uses for orthoxylene saw a reduction though some sectors, mostly those relating to treatment for the pandemic, showed strength. The main increases early in the pandemic were surfactants and medical equipment component production but this only accounted for a small portion of the market. The worst-hit industries, particularly in Q2 & Q3 of 2020, were the construction and automotive industries. The situation has shown a good improvement since this point. Currently, demand from the construction industry has been robust following several months of increased construction activity.
The winter storm that hit the US in mid-February has caused some disruption to the orthoxylene and phthalic anhydride as it has for most of the chemical industry. Orthoxylene capacity was idled as a result of the storm. There has also been some effect on plasticizers plants which will, in turn, affect orthoxylene and phthalic anhydride demand.
There have also been few delays caused by the cold weather seen across Europe in February, however, this has had no major impact on logistics or supply. Though there were some concerns about Brexit causing some delays there have been no issues seen.
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