PVinsights: Strong RMB Continued to Lead Upstream Higher

The Chinese polysilicon prices edged higher against the downstream components after September procurement was seen as decent enough to support the possibility of the high polysilicon prices. The prices floated near their highest in 2017, buoyed by brightening prospects for stronger RMB and by a short-term tight supply, due to China's environmental inspection and annual maintenance. The final prices showed a diversity as suppliers proposed lower prices than spot market for long-term contracts to maintain the partnership, while realizing the pressure from the downstream.


The Chinese polysilicon prices edged higher against the downstream components after September procurement was seen as decent enough to support the possibility of the high polysilicon prices. The prices floated near their highest in 2017, buoyed by brightening prospects for stronger RMB and by a short-term tight supply, due to China's environmental inspection and annual maintenance. The final prices showed a diversity as suppliers proposed lower prices than spot market for long-term contracts to maintain the partnership, while realizing the pressure from the downstream. While that's the consecutive week of rising polysilicon prices, growth has been partially driven by RMB appreciation rather than because suppliers requested higher prices since they turned less aggressive under the impression that the prices had hit the ceiling.

Multi-crystalline and mono-crystalline wafer prices rose as the RMB appreciation offset the small correction in the local currency due to the waning demand. Multi-crystalline wafer producers continued to raise the possibility of a productivity reduction, if the polysilicon prices remain plateau and the extension of rising mono-crystalline wafer prices should be unsustainable, potentially pushing the risk of a price reduction later. Higher material costs and increasing pressure from the downstream pushed multi-crystalline wafer producers to accelerate the transition from slurry wire to diamond wire in order to meet the price target from customers. In overseas markets, the supply shortage continued as 1st tier suppliers preferred to have less priority to support oversea buyers and forced them to accept 2nd or 3rd tier players raising prices.

Multi-crystalline and mono-crystalline cell prices slumped, with regional index heading towards lows this week, as worse-than-anticipated order visibility raised concerns over growth. Cell makers were suffering from the decreasing margin of their products as selling prices stayed suppressed amid a pick-up in costs for the materials they bought, including polysilicon and wafers. Some major producers started to consider productivity reduction due to the surging costs and hoped the supply restriction would be able to control the price slide. The decline was especially pronounced in mono-PERC while Chinese players started to expand the production.

Multi-crystalline and mono-crystalline module price slide was fully offset by the weakened USD this week. A standoff over the upstream price hike started to raise alarm bells among module makers when a protracted showdown over increasing cost and subsequent downtrend of panel prices led to a worsening margin. The price competition among Chinese players temporarily eased globally as upstream component prices elevated. In other market, such as Europe and Japan, the price slide was eased by the appreciation of local currencies.

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