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EU CONSUMER CONFIDENCE REACHES RECORD LOW

EU consumer confidence reaches the lowest ever recorded level in July, according to the latest data from the European Commission.

The new numbers show a decrease of 3 percentage points for the EU and 3.2 percentage points for the Euro Area.

The new levels surpass the lowest point reached during the beginning of the pandemic, raising fears of a major economic contraction.

The polymer industry has been feeling a considerable pressure on demand which is to do with a multitude of reasons.

But this latest reading reinforces the view that consumer jitters over inflation, war, and a looming energy crisis are additional major factors slowing down demand for polymers.

POLYMER MARKETS CONTINUED TO WEAKEN IN JULY
falling trend

Polymer markets continued to weaken substantially in July in Europe on the back of falling demand.

This was making price negotiations difficult as many producers continued to face increasing costs.

Demand for most polymers has been getting weaker since the beginning of the second quarter.

Activity has remained soft in automotive but has recently started to fall in other markets. Some of these include appliances and even construction.

The decrease in demand is attributed to many factors. Some of these include supply chain disruptions, seasonality, and high raw material prices. But most probably also inflationary pressures.

This weakness will most probably continue for the rest of the summer, and likely for the rest of the year.

In some markets, the fall in demand has been rather drastic, resulting in players having to stop production lines.

Polypropylene (PP) and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) are some of the worst-hit markets, also because of competitive imports.

With the relentless increases in energy prices, Europe continues to lose competitiveness across entire supply chains, which is probably weakening demand further.

Meanwhile, during this time of the year activity slows down because of the summer, and this has certainly accentuated the fall in demand in some sectors.

There were markets that were still performing relatively well, such as electrical and electronics and packaging. However, this was not enough to offset the losses in other markets.

As demand continues to weaken amid rising inflation, the situation could become much worse for all players during the winter when there is a greater risk of a spike in energy costs.

PC PRICES POST DECREASES IN JUNE
Polycarbonate sheet

PC prices post decreases in June versus May regardless of cost pressures, according to the latest assessments by GC Intelligence.

Polycarbonate (PC) buyers up until recently have experienced a prolonged period of price increases, taking values substantially above €3,000/mt.

However, during the past few weeks, better availability, because of persistent slowdowns in demand allowed buyers to negotiate decreases.

Supply chain issues disruptiong production downstream and inflationary pressures were the main drivers.

In addition, the slowdown in China because of the lockdowns increased import efforts to Europe, adding more pressure.

But a weaker Euro against the US dollar and ongong logistic problems limited the impact imports were having in Europe.

However, after recent rebounds in gas prices, suppliers will most certainly resist further decreases. But as seen in other markets, sharp falls in demand will lead to lower prices regardless of costs.

DEMAND IS DECREASING SUBSTANTIALLY IN EUROPE
Decrease graph

Demand is decreasing substantially in Europe in June across most polymer markets amid a multitude of pressures. With energy prices remaining firm, producers’ margins could suffer a major squeeze.

Prices have continued to go up after the onset of war. But the slowdown in demand because of inflationary pressures and competitive imports from regions with lower energy costs are causing a dramatic fall in demand in Europe.

Moreover, buyers are struggling to pass on the continuous increases in costs amid supply chain disruptions.

In this market environment, buyers are destocking, probably also those volumes accumulated becasuse of panic after the war started.

An element of seasonal slowdown ahead of the summer is probably also adding downward pressure on demand.

The decreases in demand are quite substantial, up to 40% in the case of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). However, other markets are also slowing down, such as polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS), nylon (PA6/PA66), and polycarbonate (PC).

There are downstream markets that are still holding up well, such as electrical and electronics and construciton. But players in these markets are also beginning to experience signs of weakness.

While it is too early to see this as the start of a a major trend, prices could continue to soften during the summer months.

And as energy costs remain firm and threaten to spike again, prices will most probably fail to fall back towards their long term trend. But for now sharp downward corrections appear to be unavoidable in June.

COVESTRO ANNOUNCES PRICE INCREASES FROM JUNE
Polycarbonate roof

Covestro announces price increases from June on all polycarbonate (PC) products.

The company is apparently seeking €300-400/mt increases, sarting from 1 June, “or as existing contract terms allow.”

The proposed increasees are for custormers in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region.

The European PC market has suffered lately, as all other polymers, from a surge in energy costs.

And while demand was decreasing, global events, particularly the lockdowns in China, were reducing supply.

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