08.05.2017, nur in Englisch verfügbar
Roll over and drop
The following factors influenced “commodity” polymer prices and price expectations last week:
- converters wait for better, cheaper prices in May,
- short working week,
- therefore the demand is low,
- prices falling in the last week of April,
- the feedstock inventory level of polyolefin converters is high,
- dropping BRENT oil price again lower than 50 USD,
- there is import from outside of Europe on the market again, but this quantity is still not high,
- EUR getting stronger
- Ethylene (C2) and propylene (C3) roll-over,
- in spite of the benzene price increase (+9€) there was a major drop by 245 € in case of styrene monomer,
- there is an incident at two major WE producers,
- Poland was on leave last week.
May started with a short week, polymer producers published their prices only as late as in the second half of the week. What is more, in case of PS monomer prices were also published only as late as on Tuesday.
Plastic converters were expecting a dropping price tendency, in April demand was low, they tried to consume their expensive inventories. As in spite of maintenance activities and minor incidents supply is abundant and stable in case of most polymer grades, converters could wait without supply risk for more favorable, cheaper offers. Expectedly waiting and inventory optimization will continue in May as well. There is no buying constraint.
Polymer producers came up with different price strategies last week. Major WE producers tried roll-over and minor price increase, but this failed because of the resistance of buyers. CE producers typically have started the day with price reduction, depending on the grade concerned there was a list price drop by 20-45 EUR. Polyolefin producers were forced to reducer the “spreads”.
In case of LDPE there is a weak European demand on the market. The largest regional LDPE producer has cut his prices, depending on the market, by 30-40 €. Minor producers applied a pricing policy in line with their cash-flow objectives. At the present, on the market, an average size plastic converter can buy LDPE at a price of 1,280-1,320 EUR/ton, but the prices of the Romanian LDPE producer are already below 1,250 €. Lacking demand in Europe is also proved by the fact that one multinational LDPE producer offers its products at prices below 1,250 € to major plastic converters. All this means that by the end of May a further slow price erosion is to be expected.
HDPE demand is still very low. Most producers have cut prices significantly, typically by 20-50 €. Prices slowly start closing, there is a diminishing difference compared to the prices of CE producers. Polymer producers try keeping their prices above 1,200 €. However because of the weak demand further, slow, cautious price reductions are to be expected. In case of PE 100 pipe grades also the low demand is the main problem, roll-over or in case of certain polymer producers a price drop by 10-25 EUR is to be expected.
LLDPE C4 prices started dropping in spite of the shortage on the market. The price reduction is in many cases just theoretical, as some converters complain about not getting offers because of shortage. The typical price range is 1,200-1,270 € on the CE market.
On the PPC market the process of price reduction came to a halt by neither Braskem nor Borealis being able to satisfy the market demand. In this way supply came to be short on temporary basis. The cheapest prices measured at the end of April (1,250-1,270 €) are exceeded by the cheapest prices measured in the first week of May (1,270-1,290 €). However the average market price has dropped by some 30 € coming close to 1,300 €. After the stabilization of the supply a further slow price drop is to be expected until the end of the month.
PPH demand is still low. PPH IM average prices have dropped further by some 30-40 €, they are on the average at about 1,200 € on regional level. But the prices of the southern producers of the region are by 30-40 € cheaper. PPH raffia average prices have similarly dropped by 30-40 € and are now below 1,200 €.
The prices of the last two weeks are presented in the table below:
||Polymer price ranges in May, 2017, 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
The price of SM dropped drastically, by some 245 €. This means a price drop by 520 EUR within one month. But seemingly PS producers are not willing to pass on completely the monomer price decrease. This is not a big problem, as the extreme volatility of the last six months shall be curbed. Now the price decrease shall be curbed.
As the monomer price came to be clear only as late as in the middle of last week, just a few deals have been made. Polymer producers propose a price drop by 160-180 EUR, but due to the resistance of the buyers the final agreement will be on the average at about -200 €/ton.
This happened in case of EPS as well. High demand is typical for the market, supply is balanced. In the first offers traders, producers have foreseen a price reduction by 160-190 EUR. Here converters cannot wait for too long, they have to decide quickly if they want to ensure continuous production. The typical price range is 1,320-1,400 €. Because of the missing import no further significant price reduction is to be expected in May.
On the GPPS market there is still no demand, the lowest price offered was 1,320 €/ton, the rate of the actual price reduction is not known yet, but it is possible that the change of average prices will exceed -200 €/ton.
In case of HIPS demand is good and is in balance with the supply. Also here polymer producers propose a price drop by 170-190 €. But converters will be able to reach a price reduction even higher than this (about – 200 €). Because of the import average prices can drop even more, the price reduction can be as much as the monomer price drop (245 EUR).
The PS market is expected to cause some more surprises during the next months. Steep price increase was followed by steep drop, and we shall anticipate at least one wave of increase and drop this year. We are afraid that the next increasing price cycle will start in the summer, out of the season, and then passing on the price increase is not simple.
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