As we reach the summer of 2022, we see overall demand remaining solid, while prices start to stabilize or only slightly increase for engineering resins. However, Benzene is expected to go up in the near term for Q3 (which is the precursor to PC, ABS and nylons), much of the North American styrene production was offline in May, and diesel fuel seems to be the newest commodity to affect the global market. The housing market index for June slowed for the 6th straight month and with the higher interest rates, it puts the construction industry at risk.
The European plastics industry has been under threat since Russia invaded Ukraine, and Shanghai has been under lockdown for about two months. The consequence continues to lead uncertainty of supply and material bottlenecks on the global supply chain, specifically for commodities.
The biggest topic the North American industry has faced this month was the Superfund Excise Tax – which started hitting resin buyers’ invoices on July 1. The net result for many processors will likely be higher prices: from $0.005 to $0.05 per pound on some resins. Since resin makers and suppliers are likely to pass on the cost of the taxes, the range of the final cost burden will be up to the customer.
ABS cost increases looking forward are expected while the automotive and appliance markets are still strong for ABS; though FR ABS is continues to be short in the market and still at elevated prices. You can locate North American FR ABS on 10-week lead time at higher prices than imports. However, the imports delivery time is well beyond 10 weeks and confirmation dates are rarely met. Prices settled at $1.79 for ABS GP in June and should remain solid through July, and then begin to drop about 6cpp through the end of the year.
In China, ABS is seeing cost increases, but with the slow demand, the price increase doesn’t seem to be going through to the buyers. The new capacity for ABS in Asia is more than the capacity for both North America and Europe combined. That is a lot of incremental pounds to be filling the global market, turning ABS into more of a commodity than it was becoming already. Currently, Asian producers/suppliers are targeting higher priced ABS sales in North America to reduce their inventory and turn those pellets into cash.
PC prices have been relatively stable, with increases expected looking forward with the increase in benzene expected in Q3. Costs increased 2cpp in June settling at $2.03, and in terms of supply we are still waiting to see how quickly Covestro will be up and running with the continued BPA shortages. As the PC precursor, how much PC production is possible is yet to be seen until those BPA feedstocks are consistently available.
Otherwise, there is good availability from domestic suppliers as well as offshore suppliers. Demand has remained strong for PC in the US, even with the construction market seeing limitations of higher interest rates and income decreases.
Lead times are reported as unchanged at 8-12 weeks– Sabic is currently at 8 weeks. Star Plastics has reduced lead times at the forefront of the market to 6 weeks.
Asian PC currently makes up about 50% of the market share of North American currently, where it was normally 35% of the market. Like with ABS, they’re targeting the higher priced sales in North America for the near term while waiting for the Asian economy to recover.
Nylon 6 producers have announced increases to match the ongoing strong demand, specifically due to associated higher production costs and tight feedstock supply. A $0.10 cpp increase bumped Nylon 6 up to $2.12 in June. The production cost for this polymer looking forward is expected to go up further, nearly 25 cpp. The expected benzene increase in July will push both 6 and 66 up again looking forward into Q3. Nylon 66 has increased prices but without the supply limitations and strong demand, reaching up to $2.54 when paired with tightness in FR additives.
PBT saw an increase, landing at $1.93, with prices expected to remain high with the ongoing supply from Asia to North American. Cash cost to produce PBT increased 14 cpp, reaching $1.35 in June based on PTA and BDO (the primary precursors of PBT.) Looking forward to Q3 – prices are again expected to make a bit jump to as high as $2.30 per pound.
Ocean freight from Asia has dropped to $14k from the highs of $20k to $25k in Q3/21, and there are less than 30 boats waiting to be unloaded at Long Beach and LA ports. That’s the lowest it’s been in two years.
Please don’t forget that we appreciate your business, being a valued partner to Star Plastics and we look forward to working with you well into the future. Please contact us at Sales@StarPlastics.com or your local Star Plastics representative if you have any questions about current market conditions or how this may affect upcoming orders.