ABS producers have come under pressure from rising feedstock prices this year and have responded by pushing hard for sizeable price increases. Natural grade ABS prices have increased by less than white/black and coloured grades due to significant cost increases in additives such as titanium dioxide, coloured pigments and modifiers. Overall, however, sellers have not been able to gain a margin improvement so far this year with costs rising at a faster rate than prices.
European ABS production plants have been largely untroubled by outages over the last quarter. Despite this, shortages were reported for white/black and coloured grades but natural grades were more widely available. There was limited evidence of significant import volumes.
ABS demand was lively with particularly good order intake from the automotive, E&E and white goods sectors.
ABS producers are likely to press for further price increases to bolster their flagging margins, especially as the cost of butadiene continues to rise.
Polycarbonate prices were relatively becalmed over the last two months following the price surge witnessed during Q1. PC producers were largely successful in maintaining margins in face of the extreme cost pressure. The cost of key feedstocks, benzene and phenol, have however been on a downward trend in recent months.
Sufficient PC material is available to meet demand and there have been no reports from producers of any serious production issues. Order intake remained brisk throughout Q2 with automotive, E&E and extrusion sheet material for the construction sector driving demand.
PC producers will be watching feedstock cost development closely before making any further price announcements over the coming weeks.