During Q3, standard grade polycarbonate resin prices moved €100/tonne higher with specialty product such as coloured grades showing even stronger gains. Producer efforts to lift PC prices have been assisted by higher notations being quoted for imported Asian material.
Polycarbonate demand was at normal levels for most of the summer period but has started to weaken over the last two months. Automotive and construction sector demand for polycarbonate is down on 2007 levels so far this year. The E&E and industrial sectors, on the other hand, are still seeing a growing demand for polycarbonate resin.
The supply of locally produced material is now better balanced after some producers ran down their stock levels during the summer period. European PC producers were also relieved to learn that the start-up of the Mitsubishi Chemical PC production line at Kurosaki, Japan, which was due on stream in July, has been put on hold due to challenging market conditions.
Polycarbonate sellers have reiterated their desire to raise prices to cover higher feedstock costs and improve margins, with further planned price hikes of up to €350/tonne on the table from October.
prices have also exhibited a strong upward trend during the past three months. European producers were calling for price increases of up to €200/tonne to cover higher feedstock costs, especially butadiene, which is in very short supply. Standard grade prices have gained around €100/tonne, with specialties up by slightly more.
The upward price push by European producers has been assisted by a tightening in material availability. Asian imports have slowed down due to the higher Asian ABS prices compared to Western Europe and a less favourable dollar/euro exchange rate. Also, the force majeures at Polimeri Europa's Montova facility in Italy and at Sabic IP's ABS plant in the USA have tightened supply.