PC prices increase €120/mt from April to May, according to GC Intelligence assessments. The European market remains extremely tight. The sharp spikes in benzene prices is also helping to support polycarbonate (PC) prices in Europe.
During the past few months, buyers have had to endure continuous price increases, with values jumping more than €1,000/mt. The price range is extremely wide between buyers who are having to increasingly source volumes in the spot market at inflated prices.
Supply since the start of the second wave of the pandemic has been short. Production problems, strong demand, and logistic issues reduced availability. In addition, after the US was hit by the power outages, supply in the region collapsed and producers had to send emergency volumes to the region, reducing supply further in Europe.
However, while the market remains extremely tight in Europe, positive signs emerged this month. First, the situation in the US has improved, reducing pressure to send PC from Europe to the region. Second, prices in Asia are no longer increasing. In fact, bisphenol A (BPA) dropped from the highs lately. This may not have much of an impact in Europe, but it will ease pressure on producers to ship limited volumes to Asia in search for better margins.
Overall, while the PC market in Europe remains extremely tight, with most buyers on allocations, prices are getting close to the peak. Nevertheless, with most buyers on allocations and benzene prices remaining elevated, PC prices will probably continue to rise for the next few months, albeit at a slower pace. With signs suggesting that availability could start to improve, a slowdown in the upward trend during an ease in activity in the summer is a very plausible scenario.