In August, most PE producers on the European market failed in their efforts to hike prices. Above all, it was the reluctance by customers to place orders in the classic holiday month that put an end to such endeavours. Price rises and price cuts were, if at all, very small indeed, and a rollover resulted.

September will have seen an end to the calm. The early fixing of the ethylene reference price €30 ($36) per tonne higher will have played only a minor role, though it set the ball rolling. In the last week of August, the catastrophic storm in the US paralysed large sections of the petrochemical industry and, above all, olefins production. Although one or two plants may be able to restart soon, many production lines will remain at a standstill for several weeks. An upward price movement on the global markets is inevitable, but as yet is very difficult to quantify. Prices will certainly go up by more than the reference – probably by considerably more.