LONDON (ICIS)--European polyvinyl chloride (PVC) contract prices have largely softened in April by €5/tonne in Europe and £5/tonne in the UK/Ireland, despite sellers' attempts to increase prices for margin reasons, because of lower upstream ethylene costs, said market players on Friday.
Some signs of reduced activity in parts of Europe due to the Easter holidays and some competitive offers from certain sellers were also other reasons for the slight reduction in prices.
To reflect this slight softening, PVC pipe grade prices were assessed down by €5/tonne to €965-985/tonne FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe) and €895-965/tonne FD Mediterranean. In the UK, prices moved down by £5/tonne in April, taking values to £840-865/tonne FD UK, according to ICIS.
Prices below the range were reported in the UK and the Mediterranean but were not widely confirmed. By contrast, prices slightly above the range were reported in southern Europe in a few cases, but there was insufficient market confirmation to substantiate this.
Rollovers were also mentioned by some players in April, including one supplier who said it had concluded the majority of its April PVC business early at a rollover, but a number of other sellers conceded price stability was not reflective of the general market trend.
Larger price drops of €7-10/tonne in Europe and £6-10/tonne in the UK/Ireland were also reported but were not widely confirmed. By contrast, minor increases of €5/tonne were noted in a few cases, but these were seen to be exceptions.
European consumption in the downstream construction sector is seasonally healthy on the back of favourable weather conditions. The construction sector generally enters into peak season during the spring/summer months.
There have been some reports of reduced activity in the second half of April and into early May because of a series of public holidays, although the effect was most pronounced in southern Europe. A few players in northwest Europe said their demand was better than expected in April, despite the Easter holidays.
Availability remains generally good, although a few producers said they are tight in their own systems, because of recent upstream or PVC plant maintenance. Despite this, there was no evidence of any availability problems.