Rebound in BPA prices gives hope to PC market

19 January 2006 06:48  [Source: ICIS news]

By Peh Soo Hwee

China girls with phone/empicsSINGAPORE (ICIS news)--A rebound in upstream bisphenol-A (BPA) spot prices has raised hopes of a revival in the weak Northeast Asian polycarbonate (PC) market, producers and traders said on Thursday.

BPA prices surged to $1,120-1,170/tonne CFR Northeast Asia (NEA) last week, up $60-90/tonne from the week before, according to global pricing and market intelligence service ICIS-LOR, a sister company of ICIS news. This was due to strong feedstock benzene costs, and an expectation that prices would go up after the Chinese New Year holidays at the end of January.

Prices for optical grade and GP moulding grade PC are hovering at $3,100-3,200/tonne CIF Northeast Asia, $300-400/tonne lower than a five-year high of $3,500/tonne CIF NEA in May 2005. Ample supplies and a weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter performance in 2005 were among the key reasons for the decline, said the sources.

“If BPA prices continue to go up, there is a possibility that PC prices will move higher,” said a regional producer. “On the other hand, the supply-demand situation remains very well balanced.”

The start-up of three new PC facilities in Northeast Asia in 2006 has raised concerns of a supply glut. In China, Bayer MaterialScience’s 100,000 tonne/year plant at Caojing, Shanghai, should start up in the second quarter. Chi-Mei’s second 75,000 tonne/year PC line in Tainan, Taiwan, is expected to start operations by the beginning of the third quarter, and Teijin Chemicals should commission its second 50,000 tonne/year line at Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, China, in October.

But this could be partly cushioned by continued strong growth in China, where demand for products such as optical storage media, mobile phones and computers remains strong.

“Although there is additional capacity coming in, total demand in China is projected to grow around 8% this year,” said a regional seller.

For now, sellers are adopting a wait-and-see approach as most of them expect the picture to become clearer after the Chinese New Year holidays. This is because most PC customers, such as original equipment manufacturers, moulders and traders, tend to adjust their supply-chain pipelines at the start of the year and review their annual PC requirements during this period, traders and sellers said.


By: Peh Soo Hwee
+65 6780 4359



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