CNY Appreciation Lifts Solar Prices in USD Term amid Flat Trade during the China Holiday Break
Polysilicon prices in USD term edging up in the face of CNY strength, although polysilicon in CNY term ended flat on Wednesday as a Chinese holiday made for languid trade, as the lack of clarity in trading data makes it difficult for the players to gauge the strength of the sales during China long holiday and move ahead with any clear plans to tighten procurement policy, while suppliers appeared cautious to wait and see if their handiwork of supply control staved off a deeper and quicker price reduction in the months ahead.
Polysilicon prices in USD term edging up in the face of CNY strength, although polysilicon in CNY term ended flat on Wednesday as a Chinese holiday made for languid trade, as the lack of clarity in trading data makes it difficult for the players to gauge the strength of the sales during China long holiday and move ahead with any clear plans to tighten procurement policy, while suppliers appeared cautious to wait and see if their handiwork of supply control staved off a deeper and quicker price reduction in the months ahead. With polysilicon prices rebounding relatively quickly from pullbacks last month, buyers had generally been lukewarm about the current offering prices as some players said it was the length of the overstocking - and its largely uninterrupted nature - that concerned them, while a lot of industry experts out there wondered it could be the next catalyst for a market correction the same as last month. Moreover, most mono-crystalline wafer makers have stopped buying polysilicon and are no longer chasing prices in the recent week as the rally that carried prices higher during January has run out of momentum, and as doubts set in about the rate of demand growth after Chinese New Year and acceleration in production output. For many, it is tempting to dismiss the signal as a bum steer from a polysilicon market that experts say faces a glut of new capacity due to over-optimism about demand one year back, but given the long lead time it takes to build new polysilicon factories, the resultant excess capacity is kicking in now and overwhelming subdued demand.
In a month of volatile trading, mono-crystalline wafer prices at first soared on news of a rift between supply and demand that was sparked by supply control by the largest supplier and pre-stockpiling demand ahead of Chinese New Year, but the rally fizzled and prices steadied this week on fresh signs that the supply glut that pushed prices down more than 25% in November and December 2021 was growing. Particularly, the 182mm mono-crystalline wafer market's relentless drive higher in early January had caused some nail-biting on the market that the rally was about to end, while demand uncertainty risks - such as the latest escalation of competition with 210mm ones - were just one on a list of worries. The recent contraction in mono-crystalline wafer procurement activity is a testament to the dampening effects of the heightened market uncertainty after the long holiday, which is making suppliers and consumers more cautious about stockpiling and purchasing, accordingly.
Mono-crystalline PERC cell prices in CNY term are stable so far this week, rising slightly against the dollar but lacking direction overall amid pre-holiday-thinned trade, the industrial professionals said, adding that the market was weighing up rising production data and waiting for the market dynamics after Chinese New Year as well as watching developments in China and neighboring India, a major cell importer. China's solar cell profit margins declined in January for the first time in two months as wafer costs picked up faster than growth in cell prices, some players said, a sign of silicon-cost-push pressures starting to affect Chinese cell makers being cautious of wafer purchasing. Besides, mono-crystalline PERC cell purchasing slowed at the end of January as the inventories and production surged after stockpiles built early this month in fears of potential Omicron pandemic in China could be weighing on the supply chain later.
Mono-crystalline PERC module prices fell on Wednesday on concerns over weaker demand growth in top buyer China in February, with sales and inventory pressures remaining high and adding to concerns about the persistent glut of solar modules, but strong CNY supported the solar module prices in USD term and the corresponding major indexes ended up steady. The crosscurrents of inventory clearance and price control put module makers in a tricky position: Tighten stockpile level too fast and they risk snuffing out the hope of a steady price cut, but if they move too slowly, inventories and sales pressures could intensify, squeezing businesses.