Market uproar / Aggressive pricing from Asia pressures European producers / Converters in price vice
The situation is dramatic: The European market is very divided, with only PC and PMMA prices relatively neutral and tangible. Everything else is chaos. Both supply and demand are weak almost everywhere, and imported material from Asia – which is being thrown on the market at prices beyond competitive – is putting European prices under ever-increasing pressure.
Converters are responding to the situation by only buying at the bottom price of their contract range, and then making up any shortages with imported material. Hardly any producer succeeded in factoring in the benzene reference price, which rose EUR 108/t in February.
A look at the market also shows that the automotive sector is still weak. Consequently, many converters have written off the first quarter and are placing all their hopes on the second. The fact that planning lead times have shortened drastically (often to only 7 or 10 working days instead of several weeks) is making things even more difficult. Furthermore, due to extremely high engineering thermoplastic prices, purchasing is only possible with interim financing, the costs of which threaten to eat up what is anyways only a small margin. The consequence is that more and more converters have resigned themselves to closing individual production lines and are planning to shut down shop over Easter. Short-time work is now part of everyday life.
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