The market is in better shape to be able to support increases from the current lows.
PBT price increases loom in Q1 in Europe as the market improves for sellers.
In 2020, polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) prices suffered losses during the pandemic.
Pressure from imports, lower costs, and subdued demand had been placing downward pressure on prices since 2019.
When the pandemic hit the European market, it ensured that prices stayed low or decreased.
But after last summer, demand climbed, import prices rose, and costs increased.
Buyers are now facing the prospect of higher prices in Q1.
While the PBT market is still balanced, higher costs of butanediol (BDO) and strong auto sector demand will support the upside in Q1.
What is more, a strong Chinese market pushed up import prices from the region. This added further pressure on European prices.
While most accounts face duble-digit price increases, some could face much higher prices.
Producers in Q4 announced price increases substantially higher than €100/mt.
European PBT prices lost about 10% during 2020, according to GC Intelligence assessments.
But as the trend turned to the upside in H2 2020, producers have the momentum to regain some of the lost ground.
Europe’s downstream markets, especially automotive, suffered during the first half of the year.
But since September the market recovered and this trend gathered pace in December.
Further losses are unlikely
It is possible that the pandemic could revert the current trend.
But while this could happen later in 2021, it is very unlikely that it will hit demand as early as Q1.
If demand from key segments starts to retreat later in 2021, then prices will post rollovers.
For PBT prices to start to post losses again, demand would need to nosedive as levels are already at a low point.
Current prices represent the weak market environment of the first wave of the pandemic, when car sales fell almost 80% in April.