While many buyers face ongoing struggles for availability, signs of relief emerged in June. The polymer industry for months experienced severe shortages, high costs, and price spikes. But the upward trend has ended in many markets, suggesting the likelihood of an overall better balance in Q3 and a move away from the extreme tightness seen in 1H 2021.
Polycarbonate (PC) buyers look set to absorb more increases in June. However, the lower raw material costs appear to have led to a softening of the highest offers seen during the past few months. This reinforces the view that values are getting close to the peak.
Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA) imports have become more competitive despite ongoing logistics troubles, helped also by favourable exchange rates. While this may not be enough to prevent further price increases in Q3, it will certainly help to limit the upside.
Nylon 6 (PA6) costs decreased after a sharp drop in the benzene contract price in June. While supply is tight on the back of the shortage of caprolactam, some sellers are already lowering offers. The picture on price movements, however, remains mixed in June.
Nylon 66 (PA66) production issues plunged the market into another crisis recently, but the upside seems to be running out of steam. The ease in costs, and lower demand in some markets due to raw material issues downstream appear to be supporting rollovers from some sellers.
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) prices will fall after the big decrease in the styrene contract in June. But a tight market should allow producers to decrease prices by a smaller amount than the decrease in costs.
Styrene Acrylonitrile (SAN) supply is set to improve as availability of acrylonitrile (ACN) has increased. But low stocks and turnarounds will prevent a big fall in June.
Polystyrene (PS) supply is tight for HIPS and better for GPPS. Nonetheless, offers plunged on the back of lower monomer values. Some sellers appear to be in a race to place more volumes on the market before further falls.
Polypropylene (PP) buyers continue to receive more offers from Asia, placing pressure on spot prices. Spot prices are gathering downward momentum in June.
By and large buyers so far have faced slightly better supply and lower offers on most markets. However, for many the situation remains rather chaotic, and some might even have to absorb further increases. But signals suggest a better market environment going into the slow period of the summer.