Polyacetal (POM) prices continued to drift downward in early summer as a result of demand weakness and good material availability, particularly for copolymer grades. Suppliers were forced to make concessions, especially at the upper end of the price range, where notations tumbled by up to €100/tonne.
The European POM sector has remained fairly stable since mid-June with only small movements in methanol prices and lower volumes of cheaper imported material. Supply and demand are well balanced following production cutbacks earlier in the year. Sales have remained weak throughout the summer. POM sales have been severely damaged by the demand downturn in key end use sectors such as automotive, industrial and small household appliances.
In Q4, producers may well announce price increases to capitalise on a possible increase in order intake and the rising cost of imported material from the Far East.
Bulk extrusion grade PMMA prices at the lower end of the price scale have fallen by €120/tonne since May, while higher end notations have largely held firm. The €50/tonne increase in Q3 monomer costs has started to hit freely-negotiated transactions and will be fed through into indexed contract prices during the next three months.
Supply is well balanced, industry stocks are at low levels and Asian imports have been falling. Furthermore, routine maintenance at Altuglas has affected PMMA availability over the last two months.
PMMA demand has been subdued over the last three months with sales to the automotive sector particularly sluggish. Growing demand for flat screen monitors is however supporting PMMA sales.
Some producers announced price increases for semi-finished PMMA products and moulding compounds in September due to higher feedstock costs.