North American EPS producers seek June hikes

09 May 2007 23:21  [Source: ICIS news]

SANTO DOMINGO (ICIS news)--Feedstock benzene and styrene price increases have prompted two US expandable polystyrene (EPS) producers to seek a 4 cents/lb ($88/tonne) increase for June, sources said on Wednesday.

The proposal follows an earlier initiative by two other EPS producers, who had nominated a 4 cents/lb increase, effective 1 May. However, given flat demand, and the recent implementation of an increment in April, the increases appear unlikely to materialise in May.

The producers who had nominated a May increment were expected to postpone the initiative to June, although confirmation was pending.

Sources on the supply side said that if producers operated from a unified front, there would be a greater chance of having a successful implementation of the hikes in June, instead of May.

Consumers had resisted the May initiative, citing difficulties in absorbing steeper prices two months in a row, together with lacklustre market conditions downstream.

The implementation of the increase will also depend on the price of offshore material, as domestic producers were striving to remain competitive and maintain market share against imports.

Although there has not been any formal announcement of price increments for imports, higher values were expected to hit the market in July.

Sources said that there is usually a 30-day delay between the implementation of increases in North America and the shifting of import prices.

Values for imported product continued to hover in the low 80s cents/lb for material originating in China and Taiwan, according to global chemical market intelligence service ICIS pricing.

Domestic resin prices were assessed at 87-95 cents/lb delivered (DEL) for modified grade.

EPS producers include Nova Chemicals, BASF, StyroChem and Huntsman.

By Gabriella Wheeler

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