Market swamped by wave of price hikes / Polyamide notations skyrocket / Further increases expected in April / Upward pressure will continue
In March, the European market for engineering thermoplastics was, as predicted, flooded by the global wave of costs that has been building since the beginning of the year. Most notations for all types and grades included in this report jumped sharply, a few only moderately. This time it was the polyamides that set the pace, with increases amounting to at least EUR 200/t. Global prices for the majority of feedstocks in the PA chains had exploded to such an extent in the previous weeks that triple-digit hikes barely raised an eyebrow. It was the PBT grades that experienced the smallest rises, but with PMMA, the situation intensified again quite significantly.
Commodity-related ABS (see PIEWeb of 05.04.2017) again registered triple-digit increases because of the higher composite costs. Prices climbed to a new record high.
The substantial rises with PP compounds (see PIEWeb of 05.04.2017) in recent weeks continued in March. Both sets of buyers - with the traditional bond to C3 and with an orientation to standard PP - suffered price rises above the increase in the monomer or raw material costs. The automotive industry was a particularly strong driver. The constantly rising prices and the hedging purchases connected with this provided for additional dynamism.
Even if there are clear indications, especially in Asia, of a turnaround - for example, with the aromatic chains - European prices of engineering thermoplastics are likely to move up again in April. The cost increases in the previous months have simply been too large. Furthermore, higher quarterly agreements will push rates up on the open monthly markets. Yet, despite the pessimists, this phase of hefty price rises should come to an end fairly soon. It is expected that things will calm down again towards the end of spring. On the other hand, significant corrections are expected for ABS as early as April, as the main cost driver styrene has undergone a huge fall to bring to an end the high that had lasted for so many months.
The small rise in the cost of C3 has not initiated another window of change with PP compounds at the beginning of April. Correspondingly, fixed agreements should end up with a rollover. This does not, however, apply to standard PP-oriented orders, where moderate increases of EUR 30 - 50/t are expected.