French Strikes, UK EU Membership Referendum, Summer Shutdowns and a Less Robust Approach to Passing on Feedstock Costs, All Contribute to Market Uncertainty.
The polymer market has become multifaceted with a wide range of factors influencing pricing. Here in the UK, the added uncertainty surrounding the likely outcome of the UK European Union membership referendum is creating significant variation in the value of the GBP against both the Euro and also the USD, as the margin for the remain vote diminishes and the financial markets price-in greater risk of an exit vote. All will be revealed after June 23rd although current speculation is that a divorce from the EU is likely to create on-going economic uncertainty whereas a vote to remain is likely to result in more rapid stabilisation.
Perhaps before considering the effect of exchange rates, it would be best to take a view on what is happening at a more macro level. Interestingly, in the case of polyolefins, producers have generally been less bullish and are no longer achieving feedstock-plus price settlements and often not even recovering the full feedstock increase; instead opting to trade margin in order to retain, gain or regain precious volume in what appears to be, from a demand perspective, a duller market. In the case of polystyrene, the effect of the French industrial action appears to be having a greater impact on availability. Here producers have more success in passing through feedstock increases.
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