For many, the return to work also meant trying to re-acclimatise with what was happening in the market following their Christmas break.
Unlike previous years, there were not huge structural changes to deal with, although now implemented regulations on imports from the EU could lead to further driver shortages.
For paper grades, there were actually some small price rises for some key grades. A stronger PRN/PERN also boosted bottle grades in plastics. Copper and brass were both up for metals.
The Christmas period also saw a strengthening of the pound against the dollar with it reaching $1.35 at the time of writing from $1.33 on 17 December. This new level was the highest since late October. It was also the same with the euro with it up to €1.19 from €1.17 on 17 December.
Market participants were still trying to find their way this week, with many having decided to take some rest of the Christmas period following a challenging year in 2021.
A rising PRN/PERN and good demand pushed up the value of bottle grades by around £10 per tonne.
But film grades did not respond in the same way, partly as European buyers were still trying to work out the market. As a result, there was no change from the pre-Christmas price.
In particular, buyers and sellers of LDPE are trying to assess the impact of lockdowns/tougher Covid restrictions in Europe and the UK devolved nations, as well as self-imposed lockdowns seen in England. With commercial businesses generally having a weaker Christmas period, and the January sales not really taking off in terms of store footfall, arisings of film are weak. The question is whether demand is also poor, or if this is just a temporary situation if the Covid Omicron variant has peaked or is peaking.
There was a sense that prices were falling or at least the same as they were before Christmas this week. But the data reported by people suggested that prices of some key grades were up a little. Some people are also thinking that prices may be on the way up this month anyway.
OCC actually didn’t change from the pre-Christmas price, with deep sea destinations and pre-inspect destinations not wanting to see prices rising.
However, European demand for mixed and news & pams was good, partly driven by fears that drivers may be in short supply due to the new import regulations and checks on goods coming into the UK. Both of these increased in price as a result.
The question will now be whether this will be a trend seen in the next few weeks, or it if is a one off. If it continues, will this put pressure on OCC to go up too?
Copper and brass grades were both up £200 this week on 17 December prices, but there was no change for other metal grades.
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