26.03.2018, nur in Englisch verfügbar
Weak market, converters expect price drop in April.
The following factors influenced “commodity” polymer prices and price expectations last week:
- BRENT oil price 68.91 USD/barrel, increasing prices,
- EUR/USD: 1.2332, EURO getting stronger
- NAPHTHA: 569.68 USD/t, slightly increasing prices
- Low demand, market waiting,
The most important feature of the last week was low demand and the significant reduction of spot prices in case of polyolefin grades. Plastic converters expect price drop in April. Producers would like to increase their prices. Price increase would be logical as oil and naphtha prices increase. Yet in the second half of March the market turned towards dropping polyolefin prices. Dropping spot prices are first of all due to the lacking demand. Why does demand drop? Converters work continuously, their capacity utilization is high. But now their feedstock warehouses are full. This is first of all the effect of pre-purchases in November-December. Because of the expected price increase now everyone buys only as much as they absolutely need. Traditionally in the spring season all know increasing prices will come and try buying in advance, yet now the opposite happened. Converters have come to “feel” their power and the uncertainty of polymer producers. They sit and wait. They do not buy. Polymer producers pushed their problems they had in November to March and seemingly to April as well. A big loser and good example is LDPE. At the end of November and in December some regional producers have cut their inventories by applying special prices. Yet these quantities continue their lives. The special prices below 1,100 €/t hit the market now, pulling the price level down. At the present LDPE spot prices come close to 1,100 €. In case of some offers net-net prices are below this. Panic sales of traders with low quantities are behind such low prices. They try getting rid of their inventories with the lowest losses possible, being afraid of the price drop in April. Because of the strong Euro, in case of materials imported from outside of Europe we expect a clear price drop (-10-30 €) in the first half of April. These lots are already on their way and have already been priced. In this way they further reduce the bottom of the price ranges. In this way it is not a bad decision to get out and rebuy from these inventories. In this way the expectation of low price will certainly persist in the first half of April. The question is if polymer producers can increase prices in April? Everything depends on the monomers. An olefin monomer price increase by 0-20 € does not support polymer price increase yet, it rather induces roll-over, slight price decrease. For the price increase of polyolefin grades a major monomer price increase exceeding 30 € is needed. Naphtha getting more expensive supports also monomer price increase, yet monomer contract prices in April depend on the opinion of some market players. This will turn out as late as directly before Easter. The first week of April will still be marked by Easter, it is going to be a short week, and polymer price communication can be expected after the 3rd and final prices in the second week of Easter only.
In case of polystyrene grades there is an even more clear-cut expectation of dropping prices. In spite of the monomer price increase in March it is not possible to sell in the second half of March even with roll-over. Buyers expect a major SM price decrease even by 3 digits, which induces also a significant PS price drop.
LDPE spot prices dropped further. Because of panic sales some spot prices dropped below 1,100 €. First of all in Poland, but we saw similar prices in other parts of Central-Europe as well. But the typical supply price range is 1,150-1,190 €, but distributors said it was almost impossible to sell at this price last week. None of the regional polymer producers reduced prices.
HDPE prices came to be stable while demand was low. We have even received news about minor BM grade shortages. Prices are variating in a broad range. While various HDPE grades are to have in Poland starting from 1,030 €, in other parts of Europe cheapest prices start from 1,080 €. The improving price performance of HDPE is also due to the fact that there were less speculative buys during the last months, in this way inventories accumulated have dropped.
The HDPE pipe (100) market is down, there were just a few transactions. The start of the construction season is delayed further. We anticipate demand to become more dynamic in April. Prices did not change last week. The official price range is 1,350-1,480 €.
LLDPE C4 prices did not change, the price range of the lowest spot lots measured was 1,060-1,090 €, while the price range of regular lots was 1,090-1,140 € mainly in Poland, but similar prices are typical all over Central Europe. Supply is good and broad.
mLLDPE prices are unchanged, we measured prices in a range of 1,240-1,300 €.
A part of PPH producers proactively reduced prices before the price drop in the southern region. Producer prices dropped by 40-60 €, reaching the level of 1,100 €. The typical price range was 1,080-1,150 € in Poland, while in the other part of Central-Europe we have measured a typical price range of 1,100-1,180 €. We do not expect the demand to become dynamic even during the last week of March.
PPC spot prices dropped in Poland and also in other parts of Central-Europe below 1,200 €. These are not only trader but also polymer producer prices. The typical price range in Poland is 1,120-1,270 €. Yet in the other parts of Central-Europe the typical price range is 1,240-1,310 €. Supply is still good, there is no shortage. Neither the incident at Unipetrol nor the minor production incidents of other producers had an impact on the market.
On the PPR market prices remained stable, the typical price range was 1,260-1,380 €/. Demand is low. It is hard to sell even at very cheap prices. Buyers expect a price drop.
The prices of the last week are presented in the table below (full truck load 20-22.5 t):
||Typical polymer price ranges in third week of March 2018, Central Europe (€/ton)|
|HDPE blow molding
|HDPE injection molding
|HDPE pipe (100)
|LDPE general purpose
|PP co-polymer injection molding
|PP homo-polymer fiber
|PP homo-polymer injection molding
There was almost no EPS sold last week. Because of the very high prices and the long winter demand came to a halt. In April we anticipate dropping prices and increasing demand. We have measured a typical price range of 1,750-1,800 €, which is too high and thus all are waiting for the prices to drop. Supply is good. The inventory level of polymer producers is high.
Both GPPS and HIPS buyers sit and wait. The market is silent, converters procure only the quantities needed. The price of imported products starts at 1,400 €, while European products are available as of 1,480 €. The typical price range is 1,450-1,600 €. The typical HIPS price range is 1,500-1,650 €, depending on the grade, manufacturer and application area. By April a price drop by 70-80 or even by as much as 100 € is possible.
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