Downward trend gains momentum / All types under pressure due to weak demand and cheap imports / Further reductions expected in February
For engineering plastics, the new year started in the same way as the old one ended: prices fell on a broad front, with all types seeing a reduction of some kind. The factors responsible for the downward trend were also the same – prices being pressured by weak demand in combination with competition from cheap imports. The only difference from December was the fact that, with nearly all grades, price reductions were even larger than at the end of 2022.
Production cutbacks at European plants are being counteracted by the prolific influx of imports. In the case of PMMA, in fact, the constant arrival of material from Asia has led to the return of a largely normal supply situation. Demand, on the other hand, remained weak everywhere. With automotive-type plastics, demand did actually pick up slightly, but overall, the stock-building effects at the start of the new year were well below the hoped-for level.
As yet, there is no real indication of demand springing back to life in February either. Market players are working on the assumption that, as far as demand is concerned, it will be a case of “Waiting for Godot” throughout the first quarter. Nothing is happening. Hopes are now directed much more towards the second quarter.
Against this background, the prices of engineering plastics are expected to continue their downward trend in February – perhaps with the exception of PC and PC/ABS, where the renewed rise in the benzene reference will prop up prices. With the other types as well, price reductions are likely to lose some of their dynamism, because imports (except for PMMA) are declining a little and, above all, are becoming slightly more expensive. This means that, in the upcoming price negotiations, converters will not be able to use this aspect as an argument to the same extent as earlier.