Rollover for most types / Demand weak at end of year / With feedstock prices still rising, increases in January are virtually certain
The engineering thermoplastics covered by this report showed only a little change in December. The only exception was PBT, which saw a small rise. The quarterly contracts helped converters fend off attempts by producers to push through their targeted increases. The fact that the benzene contract for December rose only minimally also played a part. The glass fibre-reinforced materials also took a breather.
The short production month, extremely slow ordering by the automotive industry, plus the fact that many converters resorted to working from stock, kept overall demand very weak. The construction sector and E&E, on the other hand, saw indications of rising demand – also looking ahead to the new year.
January will see fresh attempts by producers to factor in the mounting costs for transport and energy. Also likely to play a major role will be the latest benzene contract, which has been fixed EUR 209/t higher, plus the bottlenecks with additives such as flame retardants and glass fibres, which will also see triple-digit increases. Some types, such as PBT and PMMA, are additionally suffering from bottlenecks in the feedstock chain. It is very probable that producers will be able to win the increases they are seeking, particularly as some of them are also dropping a broad hint of higher export volumes.
It does not look as if there will be any significant improvement in the availability of electronic chips for car manufacture before the middle of the year. Overall, the industry anticipates sales for the first half-year to be a third below those in 2019.