22.01.2018, nur in Englisch verfügbar
Slowly growing January demand
The following factors influenced “commodity” polymer prices and price expectations last week:
- BRENT oil price 69.31 USD/barrel, stagnating
- EUR/USD: 1.2255 getting weaker
- Naphtha: 595.21 USD/t, increasing price tendency
- awakening market, demand corresponding to January,
Demand grew just slightly last week. After the orthodox Christmas also the orthodox New Year has come. Therefore in the southern region demand lived up, refreshing all Central-Europe.
The real directions of the year 2018 are not yet visible. The big question is, whether the peak year of 2017 in Central-Europe can be repeated or whether consumption can be further increased? This is not yet to see in January, probably also the plastics market is waiting for further events. The increase of the oil prices can slightly curb growth, and the weakening of the USD also worsens the export possibilities of European goods and increases the influx of import.
Most market players and also converters agree that prices in February will be higher than those in January, but for the time being this does not generate extra demand yet. Most converters have still bought in advance in December, and in January they have bought only what was absolutely necessary. But this does not mean low demand. Large and medium-sized companies making up 80% of the market produce continuously, their demand is balanced. BOPP, stretch film, flexible and rigid packaging material producers typically with high capacities and technical part producers are already running well, but converters linked to construction are still waiting for the season to start. For the time being the demand still shows its usual January face. Prices stagnate, there is mostly movement in the lower value of the price bands in respect of PP, and the price scissor is closing.
Increasing oil and naphtha prices absolutely determine monomer prices as well. The question is, how much? The higher increase (by 30-50 €) of propylene prices is also possible in February, which is strongly supported by the steeply increasing spot propylene price in the United States. Coupled also with low supply.
Ethylene is the big question mark, as on one hand it is visible that PE prices in January are practically unchanged compared to those in December, and in case of certain grades there was even price drop on the market. Low prices can clearly be traced back to oversupply, which is particularly strong in Poland. However the price depressing effect keeps on crawling on the CE market. Cheap import is causing trouble also in other parts of Europe, in this way polymer producers will certainly not be able at the present to accept a more significant ethylene price increase. However the ethylene price increase expected in the USA for February is $0,04 lb, which, taking also the possibility of arbitrage into account, makes a monomer price increase by even 50 € possible. In this way the big question of the next week is whether ethylene will start increasing, following propylene or will it have courage to make just slight jumps?
In case of styrene monomer the market takes a price increase exceeding 50 € for granted, which is also supported by the price increase of feedstock, but we still cannot take this for sure. Practically the SM market with just a few players can any time cause unexpected events. A volatile SM price tendency similar to 2018 is expected, with many surprises.
LDPE demand was low also last week. In this way the broadening of the price bands was typical. A price range of 1,140-1,190 € is typical no longer just in Poland, but we could see such prices also in several regions of Central-Europe last week. The demand does not reach the expected level yet, it is possible to sell only at prices below 1,200 € in Central-Europe.
The HDPE market is still weak, there was no major change compared to last week. Typical prices still fluctuate at about 1,100 €. Polish HDPE prices are in a range of 1,060-1,120 €/t depending on the grade and application. In the central region the typical price range is 1,090-1,150 €, while in the southern region it is 1,080-1,130 €. Polymer producers expect the sales to grow and the market to live up during the week ahead of us.
The HDPE pipe (100) price range was 1,360-1,440 € with low turnover. Higher prices are typical in the southern and eastern region. Higher quantities can be sold only at December prices or at reduced prices. For the time being pipe producers have not started their full production yet.
Though LLDPE C4 prices did not change, they are in a range of 1,130-1,170 €, but due to the high Asian prices supply is limited. In this way there are no high chances for the expected price decrease, as polymer producers in the Middle-East supply rather to the higher-priced Far-East markets.
The typical mLLDPE prices did not change, they were in a range of 1,270-1,300 € last week in the region.
Last week we saw even the cheapest import PPH prices cross the price level of 1,100 EUR also in the SCE region. Typical average prices are in a range of 1,120-1,170 € in Poland, while in a range of 1,120-1,220 € in the other regions. Demand for BOPP, feedstocks and IM grades with higher melt index is very good. Mainly large converters producing continuously buy. Smaller converters and producers of “highly” commodity products are still precautious about their purchases.
It is true also in case of PPC that the demand for general injection grades with medium melt index is low, also prices are low, within a range of 1,170-1,200 EUR. But the price of more special grades is rather higher than 1,200 €. In the other parts of Central-Europe the prices are higher, in a typical range of 1,190-1,260 €.
On the PPR market the typical price range is 1,270-1,360 €. The demand is good compared to January, but polymer producers are willing to apply prices from December for the sake of buying higher lots.
The prices of the last week are presented in the table below (full truck load 20-22.5 t):
||Typical polymer price ranges in the third week of January, 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
The EPS season has not started yet. Now producers and distributors are forced to do something. But converters would love to buy at December prices and now they can also force slight price reductions. For the time being the season start is not yet within reach, but the warehouses of converters are still full. Everyone expects price increase in February.
GPPS market is also on the go, demand is good. Market players are aware of the fact that in Europe several PS plants will be maintained in the first quarter. In this way GPPS and HIPS supply will be weaker. Many try to buy in advance, though this has already happened in December as well. Still GPPS from Iran is the cheapest, it is offered in a range of 1,260-1,280 €. The prices of the WE polymer producers are in a price range of 1,420-1,500 €, while Central-European producers offer their products in a range of 1,350-1,450 €, depending on the grade and application area. European producers do not accept orders for January any more, neither for GPPS nor for HIPS. There are just low quantities on the market outside of Europe. At the present cheapest HIPS from Iran is available in a price range of 1,300-1,350 €. In the price range of 1,500-1,600 € the supply of materials made in Europe corresponds to the average. In this way in case of GPPS and HIPS a price increase exceeding monomer prices is probable.
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