ABS prices have continued to climb since August on the back of higher feedstock costs. Black/white grades have shown the steepest price increases while natural grades, where there is better availability, have risen to a lesser degree.
ABS producers have been helped in their attempts to raise prices by higher Asian ABS prices and a lower volume of imported Asian material. Demand remained weak over the three months to the end of November with particularly sluggish sales to the automotive sector. There were, however, some signs of an upturn in the consumer electronics, household appliances and toy sectors. Producers' plans to raise prices during the final months of the year could be thwarted by higher Asian imports of natural grades and lower feedstock.
Polycarbonate numbers remain flat
Polycarbonate prices remained largely unchanged during the three months to the end of November despite producers calling for increases of up to €220/tonne. Apart from some freely-negotiated standard grade contracts on low notations, only the more specialised grades saw any significant upward movement.
Sellers claim that higher prices are needed to compensate for a rise of nearly €300/tonne in the cost of phenol so far this year, which has put profit margins under severe strain. Material availability is generally well balanced with low levels of demand and imports have been scarce. There were signs, however, that imports into Europe were picking up from October as the Christmas production period in Asia came to an end.
Demand remains generally weak, although there were better than expected sales to the consumer goods and E&E sectors. Overall though, the volume of polycarbonate processed in Europe is likely to be 20% lower this year than in 2008