Polycarbonate producers partially managed to put the brakes on the downward price slide during the second quarter. They announced planned price increases of over €200/tonne in June but notations for the bulk standard grades at the lower end of the price scale were down by €40/tonne while the more specialised higher priced grades registered price increases of up to €40/tonne.
Producers' margins have been under pressure in recent months due to the upward movement in key feedstocks, phenol and bisphenol. Suppliers are determined to raise polycarbonate prices to cover these higher costs. Their efforts to improve margin will be assisted by much reduced Asian imports and production cutbacks by local suppliers, which have contributed to a more balanced supply situation.
Demand during the first half of this year was well below the same period in 2008. There was a small upturn in sales in mid-summer, but this was largely put down to pre-buying.
ABS suppliers saw some success in their attempt to lift prices by up to €100/tonne in July after a prolonged period of falling notations. Standard grades at the lower end of the price range registered increases of up to €50/tonne with specialty grades showing even larger gains. Producers insisted that price hikes were required to cover higher July feedstock costs with butadiene up €200/tonne, acrylonitrile up €80/tonne and styrene up €90/tonne.
Supply is good despite production cutbacks by European producers and lower import volumes from Asia. Demand remained generally weak over the last three months and well below the comparable period last year. There were, however, signs of a modest recovery in automotive order intake.