24.02.2020, nur in Englisch verfügbar
Uncertain market expectations
Last week´s "commodity" polymer prices were influenced by the following factors:
- BRENT oil price 59.32 USD/barrel, increasing prices,
- EUR/USD: 1.0811 further weakening of the euro
- NAPHTHA (European): 480.09 USD/t, rising prices again,
- Good demand in February,
- All Central European polymer producers are producing.
- Spot monomer prices:
- C2 (FDNWE) 760 EUR/t
- C3 (FDNWE) 800 EUR/t
- SM (FOB Rotterdam) 860 USD/t)
- Expected outages:
- Rompetrol: 2020. March 15 - May 5, 2020 (LDPE, PP)
- Unipetrol: April 6 - May 18, 2020 (HDPE, PP, C2, C3)
- The weak Euro has pushed up North American HDPE prices,
- Demand for cheaper Russian grades is weaker than expected,
- Converters´ expectations are uncertain
Demand is moderate, corresponding to February. However, converters are uncertain about the outlook. Despite the not bad demand in February, they do not dare to plan in the long term. Their expectations rather tend to fall in prices. Their expectations are supported by the fall in oil prices in early February. And in everyday life, by falling fuel prices. The uncertainty is exacerbated by the high pressure from converters´ customers to use biodegradable and recycled plastic materials. However, in many cases, the finished products and packaging materials do not meet the customers´ expectations and technical requirements. The standard polyolefin grades also show problems. While we consider the presence of cheap North American polyethylene as evidence, there is little of it in the Central European market. As a result of the weakening euro, prices of non-European imports began to rise. Russian polyolefin grades are available at low prices in Poland, but demand for them is below expectations. The March purchase forecasts submitted to polyolefin producers are not encouraging, but so were the February forecasts. This, in turn, also causes uncertainty for polyolefin producers.
Polyolefin producers are also uncertain about March prices. In fact, March monomer price expectations are different even within a company. Spot monomer prices also behave uncertainly. Due to demand and price uncertainty, no significant price change of olefin monomer is likely. Although some analysts estimate a 20-50 € price drop for ethylene monomer. However, this would be a real blow to the polyethylene market, as such a monomer price drop has to be passed on to customers. This would permanently push PE prices below € 900. In addition, after the sudden NAPHTHA price collapse, prices began to rebound and rose by $ 25 in two weeks. Oil prices are again approaching 60 USD/barrel. The best thing would be for monomer prices to change within a change range of -15-0- + 5 €. In this case, the change would not have an impact on the polyolefin prices. However, the now very low PE producer margins would improve slightly. Because converters will not accept price increases in the case of rising monomer prices, and polymer producers will not pass it on in the event of falling monomer prices. Only imported LLDPE (C4) is sure to have a small price increase following the EUR/USD rate change in March.
The polystyrene market is also uncertain. The soaring SM price hike so far has been questioned. Due to the coronavirus infection, capacity utilization in Chinese PS plants has dramatically decreased and SM storage capacity has been exhausted. The question is whether we will be feeling the effects of this already in March, or will the SM price drop happen as late as April only. For the time being, expectations point to an even lower price increase of € 20-30/t in March.
LDPE prices were in a range of 890-990 €/t last week. They haven´t changed in the past week. Only the larger customers received smaller discounts (20-30 €) from the traders when buying several truck loads. The supply is satisfactory, the demand is average. We haven´t met any purchases in advance. Roll-over is likely in March.
Typical HDPE prices were in a range of 900 - 1,040 €/t in Central Europe last week. The price of North American commodities now arriving is already at the Central European price level. This narrows the price bands slightly. Although Russian HDPE in Poland can still be purchased for less than € 900.
- HDPE BM: 920-1,020 €/t,
- HDPE IM: 910-1,020 €/t,
- HDPE FILM: 900-1,010€/t,
We expect a roll-over for all HDPEs in March.
Typical HDPE (100) prices were in a range of 1,110-1,210 €/t last week. Demand in February was good throughout the region. Demand is expected to pick up as the construction season begins in March. However, no price increase is expected.
LLDPE C4 prices were in a range of 910 - 1,020 €/t last week. They are rising slowly. It has now exceeded the € 900 minimum level in the SCE region as well. Demand is good, supply is satisfactory, but there is no oversupply. Therefore, the effect of exchange rate changes may be reflected in prices. Thus, a price increase of 0-20 € is expected in March.
mLLDPE (C6) prices were in a range of 1,020-1,160 €/t last week. February prices did not rise compared to January. There is significant oversupply on the market.
Typical PPH Raffia prices were in a range of 925-1,030 €/t last week. Demand is good. Due to expected downtime at Rompetrol and Unipetrol, supply is expected to narrow in March. But due to uncertain demand, prices are unlikely to rise in March.
The price of PPM IM non-special products with medium melt index was in a range of 925-1,030 €/t last week. Compared to January, they rose by an average of € 10. The price of products with high melt flow index ranged from 970 to 1,090 €/t. Demand for both grades is good. As supply will be significantly reduced, a slight increase in prices is likely in the SCE region. But even with falling propylene monomer prices, roll-over is likely.
Typical PPC prices ranged from 1,040 to 1,180 €/t in Central Europe. Demand picked up strongly in the second half of February. Indeed, in the MCE and SCE regions, stocks of € 1,040 are running out. The lower end of the price range is definitely rising. In March, we expect a roll-over and, with that, a narrowing of the price band.
PPR prices were in a range of 1,110-1,220 €/t last week. They did not change. Demand picked up in the second half of the month. And it is expected to remain lively in March. Price increase is unlikely. We expect a rollover.
The typical prices of the last week are presented in the table below (full truck load 20-22.5 t):
Typical EPS prices were in a range of 1,120-1,180 €/t last week. Demand is low. Prices are still low in the MCE region. Rather, sale is possible at the bottom of the price range. Many producers have replenished their stock of raw materials. Thus, as the season approaches, no significant jump in demand is expected. This expected monomer price increase will also be just partially followed by the market.
Typical GPPS prices were in a range of 1,100-1,235 €/t, while HIPS prices were in a range of 1,200-1,320 €/t . Demand in February was lower than usual. Uncertain demand and unchanged prices are expected in March.
Typical natural ABS prices were in the price range of 1,400-1,650 € last week. Cheap Asian goods will not run out. Moreover, it is expected that due to the lack of demand in Asia due to the corona virus, additional cheap shipments will arrive in Europe.
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