Rising US SM tide could last through March

24 February 2009 17:23  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--A rising styrene price trend in February could extend to March on the back of tighter supply and gains in feedstocks ethylene and benzene, US buyers and sellers said on Tuesday.

US styrene monomer (SM) consumers saw February contract prices move up by 5 cents/lb ($110/tonne or €87/tonne) on average, market sources said.

The 5-cent gain was on top of January contracts at 32.75-37.75 cents/lb, according to global chemical market intelligence service ICIS pricing.

“Ethylene appears to be going up in February/March, natural gas will probably get a little stronger and benzene may roll [over]... so styrene monomer should move up,” a producer said.

Another seller said it was sold out through March and would not be producing more material than could be absorbed by the market.

This sentiment was echoed by other US styrene makers who predicted traditional summer demand would kick in by late first quarter. One seller said it had already noted an up-tick on account of restocking.

Styrene buyers acknowledged the upward price pressure and said that benzene and ethylene increases could justify hikes of at least 5-6 cents/lb in a styrene market where inventories remained relatively low.

Polystyrene producers previously pushed back 5 cent/lb hikes to March from mid-February.

Styrene barges for March were talked at 32-33 cents/lb on Tuesday, consistent with an increase of 6.5 cents/lb from early January.

Chevron Phillips, LyondellBasell, INEOS NOVA and Total are major US styrene producers.

($1 = €0.79)

For more on benzene and styrene visit ICIS chemical intelligence
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By: Landon Feller
+1 713 525 2653

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