Polymer Price Know-How: December 2022

The latest instalment of Price Know-How has been released by the leading polymer distributor, Plastribution. Price Know-How helps plastic raw material buyers make informed purchasing decisions. This month, as a turbulent 2022 draws to a close, it will be interesting to see if polymer producers make some bold moves with regard to January pricing or if they take a more moderate approach.

Overview: December 2022

The year looks set to end with negative price sentiments across the board.

From the modest feedstock price gains achieved in November, only C2 ethylene has managed to achieve a net gain following a raft of reductions in December. Styrene Monomer (SM) and Benzene reduction falls were dramatic, with both immediate and mid-term implications for styrenic polymers and a wide range of engineering polymers. In the case of standard polymers such as PP, PE and PS, European producers continue to curtail output in an attempt to reduce inventories. This will therefore restore the supply/demand balance in their favour.

So far, demand has dipped at a faster rate than expected, which brings with it the real risk that more idling of capacity will eventually result in some significant overshoot. There is already some evidence that PPHP supply is now tightening in the UK with restricted availability of some injection moulding grades. In the engineering polymers market, there is increasing evidence that reduced global shipping costs, coupled with low demand in China and Asia, is now resulting in the renewed supply of more competitively priced POM, PC and ABS.

The fall in crude oil pricing, coupled with a weaker USD, will certainly help to curtail energy costs and put further pressure on those producers who are applying energy surcharges to the kerb, or at least reduce, these additional premiums. As a turbulent 2022 draws to a close, it will be interesting to see if polymer producers make some bold moves with regard to January pricing or if they take a more moderate approach and wait for clearer indications of the market fundamentals.

Polyolefins

December has seen falls generally in line with the monomer reductions of C3 Propylene down €30 / MT and C2 Ethylene down €25 / MT. The market is quite muted, with a short month on top of general reduced economic activity.

The outlook for January is much of the same, with pricing generally expected to be around December levels. Monomers should continue around these levels with Naphtha readily available. The supply situation is expected to continue to be more than adequate to meet demand, and whilst increased imports are expected in early 2023, local European Producers are cutting production or extending planned shutdowns to try and balance supply and demand. With all materials readily available, buyers are moving to “Just in time” rather than stocking up for “Just in case.”

Styrenics

Engineering Polymers

Price Know-How: December 2022 Full Report

Visit the Price Know-How website to read the December 2022 update, including an in-depth analysis of each market segment and material group by Plastribution’s expert product managers.

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Price Know-How is an industry-leading report to keep you updated on polymer pricing and market fluctuations. A trusted, go-to resource for over a decade, Price Know-how is produced by the thermoplastics experts at the leading polymer distributor, Plastribution, with data from Plastics Information Europe.

Unlike many pricing reports, Price Know-How is tailored specifically for the UK polymer industry. We do all the currency conversions, so you don’t need to!

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