Prices mostly stable / POM slumps / Latent rumbling on polyamide and PMMA cost front / Holiday month of August likely to remain calm / More intensive discussions expected in autumn
It was mostly smooth sailing for classic engineering thermoplastics prices in Europe in July. The exception were notations for POM natural, which fell slightly as a result of at times bitter struggles with imports of basic material. There was almost no movement for the other grades covered in this report. Even the commodity-related PP compounds held largely stable. ABS, on the other hand, slipped significantly following the decline in the styrene reference price.
The superficial calm on the engineering thermoplastic market, however, belies the underlying movement in the respective cost chains. PC notations, for example, only held stable because producers stepped up their export activities. The market situation itself is comparatively weak. While demand for polyamides is not exactly over-boarding either, in this case the feedstock chain holds the potential for upheaval. Caprolactam is pushing PA 6 base polymer upwards, and, in the case of PA 6.6, availability of both HMDA and ADN has tightened in both Europe and the US. Restrictions along the feedstock chain were also palpable in the case of PMMA, while discussions about the cost of flame retardants are holding PBT especially in their grasp.
There is no denying that a number of factors point towards an upward price trend for many engineering thermoplastic grades in the coming weeks and months. However, with demand expected to remain subdued as a result of the holidays, the market will probably remain mostly calm in August. In addition, oil is pointing down, which in and of itself could suffice to rob producers' of any reason to hike prices. As a result of their proximity to commodity products, PP compounds and ABS remain under downward pressure.
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