In September, price development for most classes of standard thermoplastics closely followed monomer cost settlements. Polyethylene and PVC prices fell in line with ethylene costs while polystyrene prices increased in line with the cost of styrene monomer (SM). However, polypropylene prices fell by less than the propylene cost settlement.
Demand was lower than expected after the summer holidays while material availability was good across most product sectors.
For L/LDPE, tightening supply and better demand meant that the €40/tonne ethylene cost reduction was not passed on in full and prices fell on average by €35/tonne. For HDPE, the cost reduction was not passed on in full for blown film and blow moulding product, but injection moulding prices fell in line with costs mainly due to import pressure.
PP producers’ plans to improve margins were assisted by planned and unplanned supply restrictions at cracker and PP production plants. PP prices fell on average during September by around €30/tonne compared with the €50/tonne fall in propylene costs.
The September SM reference price increased €59/tonne following a sharp rise in the cost of benzene. However, given poor demand and good supply, producers were forced to raise prices by less than the cost rise.
For PVC, a combination of good supply and weak demand forced suppliers to pass on the ethylene cost reduction to processors in full.
With ongoing uncertainty over cost development freely-negotiated monthly contracts for bottle-grade PET varied widely; from a rollover to an increase of €30/tonne for small volume business.