In December, European standard thermoplastic prices faced upward cost pressure as a result of rising crude oil and naphtha costs. The ethylene and propylene contract prices both settled €32/tonne higher while the styrene monomer reference price surged by €95/tonne. Polymer producers subsequently announced planned price increases which were in most cases higher than the cost rise to improve their margin position.
To the disappointment of producers, polymer markets were too quiet in December to absorb much higher prices. LDPE prices remained unchanged from November while LLDPE prices fell between €5-10/tonne. HDPE blow moulding material prices also remained unchanged with small gains for blown film and a €20/tonne gain for injection moulding material.
For PP, there were small price increases for injection material while homopolymer film material prices rolled over. PVC and PET prices also barely shifted during December. Polystyrene producers, on the other hand, managed to raise notations in line with the increase in feedstock costs.
In January, European polymer markets were more bullish as converters began to restock after the holiday lull. Standard thermoplastic prices tended to closely follow the movement in raw material costs. L/LDPE producers attempted to recover some of the lost margin from the previous month by announcing planned price increase of €20-50/tonne, despite a rollover for the January ethylene contract price. However, L/LDPE prices gained just €5/tonne while HDPE and PVC prices were broadly unchanged. Polypropylene and polystyrene prices matched the respective €20/tonne and €10/tonne increases for propylene and styrene monomer.