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EU CONSTRUCTION MIXED, POLYMER BLEAK
plant building

EU construction mixed but polymer bleak. Eurostat‘s recent findings reveal diverse trends in Europe’s construction sector for January 2024.

The euro area experienced a slight increase in construction production by 0.5% from December 2023, while the EU faced a 1.0% decrease.

This fluctuation follows December 2023’s growth, where construction production in the euro area and the EU increased by 0.5% and 1.3%, respectively.

On a yearly basis, construction output in the euro area rose by 0.8%, and the EU observed a minor 0.1% uptick compared to January 2023. These figures indicate a cautiously optimistic trend in certain European areas, amidst wider economic challenges.

From the polymer industry’s standpoint, the outlook within this construction sector is notably grimmer.

Industry participants point out that demand for specific products, such as polypropylene (PP), polymethyle methacrylate (PMMA), and polycarbonate (PC), is among the weakest segments.

This situation underlines the difficulties faced by the polymer sector, reflecting broader issues within the construction industry across Europe.

EU CAR SALES JUMP 12.1% IN JANUARY 2024
car industry

EU car sales jump 12.1% in January 2024, according to the latest data from The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA).

A total of 851,690 vehicles were registered. This marked a significant rebound from the slow pace observed in the previous month.

Key European markets, including Germany, Italy, France, and Spain, all reported substantial increases in car registrations. These figures illustrate a broad-based revival in auto demand throughout the region.

Electric vehicle (EV) market share climbed to 10.9%, up from the previous year, indicating a growing consumer shift towards electric mobility.

Hybrid vehicles also saw a rise in popularity, accounting for nearly 30% of new car registrations, while traditional petrol and diesel vehicles experienced a decline in market share.

Electric car sales experienced a robust increase of 28.9%, with 92,741 units sold. This surge was led by significant growth in major markets such as Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and Germany, highlighting the increasing appeal of EVs among European consumers.

The surge in hybrid vehicle registrations by 23.5%, along with a 23.8% increase in plug-in hybrid sales, reflects a continuing trend towards electrification in the EU automotive market.

However, while the automotive sector shows promising growth, the polymer industry reports stable but unenthusiastic demand.

Specifically, polymers like PA6, PA66, and polycarbonate (PC) are facing challenges related to good availability within the value chain, as overall demand in Europe remains tepid.

PP PRICES IN EU EDGE UP IN FEBRUARY
inflation abstract

PP prices in EU edge up in February. Polypropylene (PP) prices in Europe have started to edge upwards for several market participants against the backdrop of languishing demand.

However, despite initial attempts by sellers to implement substantial hikes on many accounts, understood to be around €200/MT, resistance from buyers has led to more moderated increases. Some settled at an increase of approximately €150/MT.

The price movements are not uniform across the board, revealing a complex landscape where the extent of the increase seems to be significantly influenced by the initial pricing baseline.

Accounts that previously enjoyed lower rates are now facing more substantial hikes, while those at the higher end of the price spectrum are seeing their prices roll over.

The catalyst for this upward price trajectory seems to be a reduction in the competitiveness of imports, exacerbated by longer delivery times and a surge in freight costs, adding an additional €200/MT to the price of imported PP.

This shift has made domestic offerings more appealing, albeit reluctantly accepted by buyers due to the tepid demand in downstream markets.

The ongoing economic doldrums have dampened enthusiasm across industries, keeping demand for PP subdued.

Furthermore, a strategic destocking by many suppliers towards the end of the previous year allowed many buyers to capitalize on lower prices, positioning them comfortably to adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach in current price negotiations.

BOREALIS BOOSTS RECYCLING CAPACITY
M&A Puzzle

Borealis boosts recycling capacity. Borealis AG’s recent acquisition of Rialti S.p.A. will augment its recycled polypropylene compounds production by 50,000 tons, as stated in their press release.

With this acquisition, Borealis integrates Rialti’s expertise into its operations, broadening its range of recycled compounds suitable for various industries.

The press release indicates that this move aims to address the growing demand for sustainable plastic solutions within the framework of a circular economy.

The purchase will enhance Borealis’s recycling capabilities, marking a significant step in its business expansion and adaptation to market trends.

LYONDELLBASELL BUYS SHARE IN RECYCLING
M&A

Lyondellbasell buys share in dutch recycling company. The company has acquired 50% share in Stiphout Industries B.V. Stiphout specializes in the sourcing and processing of post-consumer plastic packaging waste.

The company operates a facility in Montfort, the Netherlands.

Founded in 2015, Stiphout has accumulated substantial expertise in transforming plastic household waste into clean flakes of recycled polypropylene (PP) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) materials.

Stiphout’s yearly processing capacity apparently matches the volume of plastic packaging waste produced by more than half a million Dutch residents annually.

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