Prices generally continue to rise irrespective of the drop in feedstock costs / Occasional signs of a plateau / High prices and weakness in automotive industry slow down business
Despite the reduction in the cost of benzene feedstock, which was already foreseeable at the end of May, engineering thermoplastics rose yet again last month. Depending on the type and the individual supply situation, some producers were asking for remarkable increases of up to EUR 800/t, but were unable to implement this on a broad front. Plastic prices have since reached such a high level that demand has dropped off considerably. Furthermore, chip shortage is having a major impact on car production – the main driving force on this market.
These factors resulted in a slight easing of the situation for producers, which means that delivery times should shorten a little, fairly soon. On the other hand, this will be nowhere near enough to begin stock-building measures. A major role in the latest price explosion – where the only exception was POM, for which something close to a rollover was reported – was played by the lack of backward integration of European producers compared with the global competitors. The need to buy expensive ABS, for example, lifted the price of PC/ABS materials enormously again.
In June, producers are likely to be confronted with tougher resistance from converters, helped by the reduced demand from the automotive industry. The E&E and construction sectors ordered normally. Although benzene fell significantly in May, the bottleneck that exists for example with the polycarbonate intermediate bisphenol A will continue. Polyamides are also still suffering from the stoppages of feedstock lines. In this respect, the fall in the cost of benzene will only have a limited influence.