Polycarbonate prices continued on their downward path during Q1 but sellers managed to limit the price decline to well below the drop in feedstock costs.
Polycarbonate prices have fallen by less than 10% since Q4 last year compared with a drop of more than 30% for phenol and bisphenol A.
Polycarbonate supply is good despite the production cutbacks and cuts in capacity. Bayer MaterialScience has temporarily closed six PC lines in Germany, Belgium and the US, but plants still on stream are operating at near capacity.
Demand for polycarbonate remained very weak over the past three months, with volume sales down by around 25% compared with the same period last year. The automotive sector saw the steepest sales reduction.
For Q2, there is unlikely to be any further dramatic price decline because imports are diminishing and the cost of benzene has increased sharply in recent months.
ABS prices fall with butadiene and styrene costs
ABS prices fell dramatically in the first two months of the year as the cost of butadiene and styrene plummeted. Price reductions were much smaller in March as styrene monomer costs increased and butadiene costs fell only slightly.
In Q1, industry sources estimate that ABS demand fell by close to one-third compared with the same period last year. Sales to the automotive and building products sectors showed the biggest fall, while the domestic appliances sector held up reasonably well.
Supply was good with plenty of imported Asian material available. Producers are cautiously optimistic that the downward slide in ABS prices could be coming to an end. Feedstock costs are rising again, and Asian ABS prices are moving upward, which should lead to lower import volumes.