Polycarbonate sellers were forced to abandon their plans to raise prices in Q4 2008 as a result of very weak sales and plentiful availability.
During the three months to the end of December 2008, standard grade PC prices had slipped by €160-170/tonne. PC demand plummeted across the board, with even usually strong sectors such as medical and E&E showing sharp drops in order intake. Automotive showed the steepest declines as car manufacturers cut back production due to falling vehicle sales. Producers responded to an over-supply situation by announcing major production cutbacks. In November, Bayer MaterialScience announced that it was closing its order books on 2008 and planed to temporarily cut up to 25% of its worldwide PC capacity for the "foreseeable future," through production cutbacks or plant shutdowns. Sabic Innovative Plastics also announced plans to reduce output considerably. The immediate outlook is for further price erosion due to steep falls in feedstock costs such as phenol and benzene and likely continued demand weakness.
ABS prices tumble as recession bites harder
Standard grade ABS prices tumbled by around €200/tonne during the final quarter of 2008 on the back of worsening order intake and sharp falls in feedstock costs. Demand from key industrial sectors such as automotive, appliances and E&E took a nosedive as the year drew to a close and recessionary forces gathered momentum.
There was a glut of material available both from local suppliers and imported material from the Far East. Production cutbacks to curb excess supply initially had limited impact on notations. During February, users will have further scope for price negotiations as the Q1 butadiene contract price crashed €720/tonne and styrene prices continue to fall.