Small price cuts initially / Hesitant pick-up in demand / Volume planning in price negotiations / Substantial reductions expected in May
Western European price decreases for the engineering thermoplastics covered by this report were moderate in April, and in many cases producers were even able to win a rollover. With the polyamides, buyers of somewhat larger volumes were able to win small concessions. Some compounders that had stocked up in the past with favourably priced polymer were out trading product at aggressively low prices. The lower prices for the black material also helped. With PC/ABS blends, the pressure was less marked. Quarterly agreements prevented a more significant fall in prices, although the ABS component again underwent a substantial decline.
The sudden halting of car production in March had a dramatic impact on components suppliers, with the result that stoppages and short-time working have dominated the picture since then. Because of the weak demand primarily from automotive manufacturing and other industrial applications, most producers have reduced output or switched production lines off completely. In some cases, scheduled maintenance turnarounds have also been brought forward.
Annual planning seems to be in fashion. Often, price discussions only become possible when converters state their required volumes. However, since demand from the slowly restarting automotive segment is impossible to predict, converters will find it difficult to make such statements. This is likely to make upcoming negotiations on prices more difficult.