The global demand for UPR increased by 5% in Q1 2021 from Q4 2020. In Q1 2021, the end use industries reached above to the pre-COVID levels, the light vehicle sales grew by 22% and US housing starts by 8% in Q1 2021 as compared to Q1 2020. The UPR price on average increased about 9% in the Q1 2021 when compared to Q4 2020. Growth in the UPR prices was driven by the increase in raw material prices such as styrene; the price of styrene increased by ~14% in the Q1 2021. The figure below depicts the change in demand and the price of UPR in the past five quarters.
Figure 1: Global Quarterly Change in UPR Shipment and Price Trends
In Q1 2021, the North American UPR market increased as major end use industries including construction and automotive market began to show upward trend.
The UPR demand in North America increased in Q4 2020 compared to Q3 2020 as major end use industries including automotive, marine, and pipe reported growth in demand during this period. The second quarter of 2020 was the low point of the current crisis. Since then, countries across the world have opened up their economies after lockdown and market conditions have gradually improved during the third and fourth quarter of 2020.
In Q1 2021, the demand for UPR in Europe increased as compared to Q4 2020. There were increases in demand and normal functioning in production activities of major end use industries. Light commercial vehicles sales grew by 3% in Q1 2021 compared to Q1 2020, creating a favorable impact on UPR demand.
In Q4 2020, the demand for UPR in the European region increased as compared to Q3 2020. Resumption in production activities and increasing construction and infrastructure contracts backed the growth of Q4 2020. Light vehicle sales grew by more than 2% in Q4 2020, compared to Q3 2020, creating a favorable scenario for UPR demand. Overall core market conditions for all of the businesses are now improving from the lows seen in the second quarter of 2020.
Asian UPR demand increased in Q1 2021 as compared to Q4 2020, supported by growth in the transportation industry and increase in construction activities in this quarter. Electrical & electronics demand was also increased, during Q4 2020, driven by revival in the Chinese market.
In Q4 2020, UPR demand increased compared to Q3 2020, primarily driven by the gradual improvements in the construction and automotive industries. Light vehicle sales increased by 17% in Q4 2020 from Q3 2020. Exports and the construction industry are faring quite well, China’s fourth quarter 2020 performance shows that the economic recovery from COVID-19 continues, led by strength in various industries driven by robust investment and exports. This is further evidence of China’s economic V-shaped recovery, which provides momentum to the UPR demand.
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