Standard PA6 prices have plunged by more than €300/tonne during the last three months in the face of extremely weak sales and falling feedstock costs. The cost of caprolactam fell by around €700/tonne between September Q4 and January before rising by €80/tonne in February.
During the same period standard PA66 prices fell by €100/tonne, with notations for adipic acid losing €310/tonne in Q4 and butadiene crashing €910/tonne between September 2008 and January this year.
Plummeting raw material costs have led many larger converters to force suppliers into renegotiation of contracts agreed in Q4. Demand is very weak across most end use sectors with sales to automotive con-verters especially badly hit by the slump in European car sales. Sales to the E&E (electrical and electronic) and domestic appliance sectors are also beginning to decline. Supply remains good, however, despite production cutbacks. There is some fear among producers that the bottom may not yet have been reached in pricing. The most likely outlook over the next three months is that producers will be forced to make further price concessions for PA6. PA66 prices are likely to hold at around current levels.
Demand decline brings PBT numbers down
PBT prices are down sharply, posting €200/tonne declines on the back of falling demand and lower feedstock costs. There were significant reductions in the Q1 contract prices for polyester feedstocks such as butanediol (BDO) and dimethyl terephthalate (DMT), which added to downward price pressure on PBT over the last three months. Order intake from key customer sectors such as automotive, E&E and machine component manufacturing are down sharply. At the same time, material availability is good, despite producer efforts to limit production. However, the plentiful supplies of Asian material at the lower end of the price scale has started to dry up.