Polycarbonate producers tabled a planned price rise of €300/tonne in January to cover the surge in benzene and phenol raw material costs, and hence the rise in the direct polycarbonate feedstock, bisphenol A.
By mid March, transparent PC prices had gained over €250/tonne since the turn of the year, with the more specialised products such as flame retardant and glass-fibre reinforced grades facing surcharges of up to €100/tonne.
Supply is balanced and most PC production plants in Western Europe have been operating without interruptions during the past three months. Producers do, however, report a limited volume of material in stock and delivery times extending longer than normal. Import volumes have been kept to normal levels, with Asian prices also high and rising.
Order intake was good with the automotive and E&E sectors showing the liveliest demand.
PC producers have also announced another round of planned price increases - between €400-450/tonne - taking effect from 1st March.
ABS producers called for substantial price increases in each of the past three months, citing the need to recover the sharp increases in styrene, butadiene and acrylonitrile raw material costs. By the end of Q1, they had been successful in gaining an additional €250/tonne across the ABS product portfolio. This producer price push was helped by limited Asian imports, which were more expensive than European product.
Material availability for natural grades was balanced throughout Q1 but black/white and coloured grades were tighter as a result of shortages of titanium dioxide and other pigments.
With order intake expected to remain solid, producers can be expected to push ahead with further planned price hikes over the next few months.