Polycarbonate suppliers managed to sustain the upward price momentum over the summer with gains of up to €300/tonne for both transparent and glass-reinforced material. The higher prices reflect producers' determination to compensate for higher accumulated phenol and bisphenol costs incurred during Q1 this year and to improve their profit margins.
European producers moves to raise prices were assisted by tight material availability and improving demand. Producers were running their plants flat out but inventories were still too low to meet growing order intake. The automotive, E&E and lighting sectors were particularly lively. Strong polycarbonate demand in Asia meant that there were limited volumes of imported material to be found in Europe.
Market insiders are expecting further price increases over the next two months despite easing cost pressure.
ABS producers also continued to push through sizeable price increases in May and June to cover the increase in styrene, butadiene and acrylonitrile costs. Feedstock cost pressures have eased over the last two months and as a result monthly contract prices have remained largely unchanged since July. Notations for black/white grades have increased by around €150/tonne over the last four months as a whole, which represents a significant improvement to producer margins.
Material is tight with most European ABS producers unable to meet local demand without long delays. There is also very little Asian material available. The ABS supply situation has been compounded by shortages of butadiene and BASF's maintenance turnaround for styrenics production at Antwerp in August.
Demand was at normal post-crisis levels across most end use sectors, with automotive order intake at a notably high level.