29 November 2012 18:47 [Source: ICB]
Sources say this is not a realistic target as players are destocking and the market currently overflows with material
Styron Europe's announcement of price increases for its polycarbonate (PC) compounds and blends has been met with resistance from most downstream players which say it is not the right time for a hike.
Slowing car sales in the EU have contributed to lower PC demand
However, most sources in the market said this is not a realistic target as players are destocking and the market currently overflows with material. "It is not the right time as everybody can get the volumes they want and the other producers are rolling prices over in December," a PC buyer said.
Most players agreed that increases will only be possible in the first quarter next year, but even then only by about €0.05/kg because demand is poor and the market is oversupplied. "Raw material costs are very high and production costs keep going up, but at the same time demand is so poor we simply cannot pass anything on, even though we need at least €300/tonne," a second major producer said.
Earlier in November, a third producer, Saudi Arabia's SABIC, announced its plans to increase prices by €200/tonne, but so far this does not seem to have materialised.
"Buyers are reluctant to accept increases. What's more, they are asking for reductions, so I think the best case scenario will be a rollover," a distributor of Asian material in Europe said.
PC demand has been affected by poor construction and automotive output.
EU construction levels slumped in September, declining by 1.8% in September compared with August, according to statistics officeEurostat. In addition, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) said EU new car registrations were down in October by 4.8% year on year.
"I have not accepted an increase and expect prices to remain stable for Q1 [the first quarter]. If there is a change then I have a realistic expectation that the price will come down," a PC buyer from the optical media industry said.
Contract negotiations for the first quarter will begin in coming weeks and settlements are likely in January.
Fourth-quarter general purpose (GP) moulding grade PC prices are at €2.25-2.45/kg free delivered (FD) northwest Europe (NWE), while GP extrusion grade PC is at €2.15-2.25/kg FD NWE.
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