Smooth Q3 transition / Most prices roll over / Slight drops in ABS and PP / No ordering slump / Despite declining feedstock costs, binding Q3 contracts dictate landscape
For the vast majority of engineering thermoplastics, the change from Q2 to Q3 went almost unnoticed. Prices for European buyers remained predominantly stable in July and only ABS and PP compounds tended softer. Whereas, in the case of ABS, this was a reaction to the plummeting butadiene price, the easing of notations for PP compounds was due to a fluid market situation. Minor corrections at the top and bottom ends of the PC range and certain grades of PA and POM were due to energetic efforts to push through increases or, in the reverse case, to dumping prices.
Apart from the rather tight situation with PBT and the ready availability of PP compounds, the supply situation for the other engineering thermoplastics was normal for a summer season. Though the Euro summer holiday period was in full swing, a surprisingly large number of market players were still in a buying mood, though not so much for PP compounds. August will not see any big summer lull, but producers have cut back on production output as they usually do for this time of year. On the cost side, butadiene notations plummeted once again by EUR 250/t, which is putting pressure on ABS and PA 6.6. PA 6 could also begin to wobble as a result of the price drop in benzene, though this was only half as much in August as it was in July.
Yet, MMA is on the up, and this could well push up PMMA prices. What is fairly certain is that notations for PP compounds will go up. With propylene now EUR 50/t more expensive than in July, the prices for automotive grades tied to this feedstock will certainly go up accordingly. Overall, however, there are unlikely to be any significant movements either way. With a rollover already agreed for many materials in longer-running contracts, this will probably set the pattern for freely negotiated prices.