Engineering Polymers - Europe March 2019
|Month: March 2019|
EPS market turns firmer on higher costs
The EPS market turned firmer in March on the heels of higher styrene contracts that settled with an increase of €60/ton in Europe. However, sellers failed to reflect the full styrene upsurge on their March EPS prices, with players reporting increases of €40-50/ton passing on March deals. Meanwhile, the overall ranges for EPS black/grey non-flammable were reported at €1420-1500/ton in March. Generally, demand from packaging manufacturers was reported to have slightly improved in March and converters in the insulation sector also decided to build some stocks ahead of possible larger increases in April on the heels of surging costs. A few buyers commented, “We have secured a few extra volumes this month as prices are still standing at workable levels. We may avoid purchasing large quantities next month, when EPS prices may see more significant increases.” In the import market, EPS white regular and non-flammable from Iran were dealt at €1230-1250/ton and at €1260/ton DDP, respectively, following a firmer trend with respect to February. As for April, expectations are mostly centered on three-digit increases for the styrene settlement and this may pave the way for a fresh round of larger hikes in April Yet, buyers believe that the bullish trend may be kept in check by the lack of supply issues.
Weak sentiment overwhelmed surging costs in PA6 market
PA6 prices followed a stable to slightly softer trend in March, despite higher benzene contracts which settled up by €61/ton in Europe. The lack of supply issues and thin demand were cited as the main factors that hindered any possible cost-driven hike attempts from the sellers’ side this month. A few players reported decreases between €20-30/ton and €50/ton in March PA6 deals, with a distributor of a South European producer adding, “Supply is comfortable in the region and we expect fresh small decreases in April as demand remains unsupportive due to the slump in the automotive sector.” Meanwhile, different sellers reported to have maintained stable prices in March, citing stronger upstream costs from one side and weak fundamentals on the other side. Players generally argued that the PA6 market is getting the hard knocks due to the negative performance in the automotive sector and they don’t rule out the possibility that prices may see further slight decreases.
Firmer PA66 trend fades on subdued demand
The upward trend that was in place since the beginning of 2018 has come to an end in March on the back of the drop in the automotive sector that pushed sellers to keep their PA66 prices stable or to slightly reduce them, after they hit the €5000/ton threshold recently. “Weak demand overcame the higher butadiene contract, settled €30/ton higher this month in Europe, curbing the bullish trend in the PA66 market,” a few players commented. Accordingly, both ends of the overall price range slightly retreated in March while a few sellers applied a rollover on their March PA66 prices. A distributor of a West European producer added, “Our supplier decided not to cut his list prices for prime quality resin this month; however, he is mulling over possible small reductions on his prices in April as the outlook remains quite weak for the main PA66 applications.” Plus, a few players added that supply tightness has slightly eased recently given lackluster demand. Players expect that PA66 prices will remain on a mostly stable note in the short term, while a few players do not rule out the possibility of seeing further small price reductions next month as demand is not expected to improve.
European and S. Korean PC follow divergent trend in March
The PC market remained mostly stable in March, with small discounts passing on a few deals, as subdued demand and comfortable supply weighed on the market. A few distributors of different European producers shared similar comments, “Our suppliers’ official list prices indicated rollovers compared to February; yet, we conceded to small discounts in order to conclude a few deals given poor demand.” A compounder for automotive and different technical applications said, “Our end product business has slowed down recently; therefore, we limited our fresh purchases this month.” Meanwhile, South Korean PC general purpose and injection grades emerged on a firmer note this month. Accordingly, some local traders reported hike requests of €50-100/ton for South Korean material, with fresh offers standing at €2100-2200/ton. European buyers, however, mostly considered those offers as unattractive and switched to the local market. Looking ahead, the negative performance in the automotive segment is expected to weigh on the PC market further. Plus, supply remains comfortable in the region and players voiced stable to slightly softer expectations for PC prices in April.
PBT extends its stable trend into March
PBT prices did not post significant changes and extended their stable trend into March. The balanced fundamentals amidst regular demand and sufficient stocks at the sellers’ side are cited as the main reasons behind the stable trend. A few distributors of different European producers commented, “We received a satisfactory number of orders from our customers while our supply levels are balanced with demand this month. Hence, we concluded our March business on a stable note.” The slack performance in the automotive sector has been balanced out by other technical PBT applications, which registered better results. As for April, prices are not expected to see any major changes and they may follow a stable trend, according to players.
Balanced market keeps POM prices stable in March
The POM market remained mostly stable in March amidst calm demand and balanced supply in the region. Meanwhile, a few non-European offers have emerged this month, after overseas sellers were out of the market for Chinese New Year festivities in Asia. Accordingly, a trader sold some quantities of locally-held South Korean material on the low end of the price range at €1700/ton, after applying small decreases of €50/ton on his March prices. Going forward, the market is largely expected to extend its stable trend into April given the weak outlook of demand amid sufficient supply.
PMMA remains flat on balanced fundamentals
PMMA prices followed a stable trend in March given balanced fundamentals. Distributors of two major European producers, Arkema and DuPont, reported to have maintained their PMMA prices stable this month. On the buyers’ side, a manufacturer of furniture and different household items in France commented, “We paid steady prices over February while we think that the PMMA market may slightly soften in April due to the overall comfortable supply. Our end-product business, meanwhile, is stable on the month.”
Higher March SM drives SAN market firmer
The SAN market turned firmer in March, following higher styrene contracts settled up by €60/ton in Europe. A West European producer had initially approached the market with hike targets of €70/ton while a source from the producer reported to have revised the initial offers slightly down, wrapping up their March business with smaller increases of €50-60/ton. A large-sized converter purchasing on the low end of the price range commented, “We secured our monthly needs from our regular European supplier while our end-product demand is stable but not brilliant. As for April, sellers are voicing their bullish expectations due to the awaited higher styrene contracts which may settle with three-digit increases next month.” Players reported that overall demand has slightly picked up in March while no supply issues were reported in the region. The firmer trend is widely expected to speed up in April, with sellers voicing their intentions to target three-digit increases for their SAN prices next month as styrene contracts are largely awaited to settle up at least by €100/ton, following the gains in the spot monomer market.
Price ranges reported include an average freight cost to the customers’ location as well as duties if applicable, although VAT is not included.
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