LONDON (ICIS)--European acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) prices have increased €30-40/tonne because of rises in all three feedstock costs, buyers and sellers said on Friday.
Buyers accepted increases in January, having avoided paying higher prices in December when raw material costs also went up.
Producers did have to concede some of their initial January targets of €50/tonne increases. Weaker-than-expected demand from the compounding and distribution markets meant buyers from those sectors were particularly reluctant to pay higher prices above the feedstock cost pass-through.
“We settled fairly quick, [the increase was] €30-40/tonne up [from December prices], and again, demand has been pretty good, particularly at the end of last week,” a producer said.
The January feedstock styrene contract price rose €35/tonne, the acrylonitrile (ACN) contract price rose €20/tonne, and butadiene (BD) rose €10/tonne.
Some exceptions were heard in the ABS market, with increases of €20/tonne from one buyer, while an increase of €50/tonne was heard from another buyer, but these were not seen as reflective of the overall market.
Producers have seen demand pick up in the second half of the month from their direct business customers.
“Demand has continued [to be strong]… we have had to increase production rates because we were running short of product,” a second producer said.
However, producers, distributors and compounders said they have been disappointed with January demand levels.
Speaking of demand, a distributor said: “for us, it's not so tight, even a little bit more soft. [We were] expecting more demand [in January] but it didn't come.”
A compounder said: “Demand - not good. Had a very good December, an unusually good December, so it might be a scenario that many end-use customers buy for January.”
While demand is not below forecast, many had hoped to see stronger sales on the back of better-than-expected demand levels in December.
ABS market participants are now looking to benzene and styrene for an idea of feedstock movements for February.
ABS compounding grade natural prices were assessed at €2,160-2,175/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe) injection moulding natural prices were assessed at €2,260-2,270/tonne FD NWE, and extrusion grade natural prices were assessed by ICIS at €2,185-2,270/tonne FD NWE.