In February, European standard thermoplastic prices continued their upward trend following a further increase in oil, naphtha and raw material costs, and shortening supply across most product sectors. Polymer producers responded by calling for sizeable price increases to widen their profit margins. However, the degree to which producers managed to fully recover the feedstock costs increases varied widely across the different material classes.
Polystyrene saw the largest hikes with general-purpose polystyrene prices surging €115/tonne after the styrene monomer reference price settled €130/tonne higher. Polypropylene prices registered gains around €12/tonne higher than the €28/tonne rise in propylene costs in a tightening market. PVC producers also achieved much needed margin improvement with prices rising €15-20/tonne compared with a €10/tonne ethylene induced rise in the cost base.
Polyethylene prices moved far less than the €20/tonne rise in ethylene costs as the market became very bearish towards the end of the month. By late February, HDPE and LDPE prices had increased on average around €10/tonne while, LLDPE prices were largely unchanged.
In a tightening PET sector, prices increases were close to the €25/tonne rise in the cost base.