North American EPS producers seek March price hikes

16 February 2011 00:54  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--North America expandable polystyrene (EPS) producers started implementation of a 3 cent/lb ($66/tonne,  €49/tonne) hike on 14 February with initial success, supported by March initiatives for further price increases, sources said on Tuesday.

One producer was seeking a 2 cent/lb hike on 1 March. Another announced a 4 cent/lb price increase effective 10 March; a third producer would support a similar increase on 15 March.

The steep increases in feedstock costs posted in recent weeks motivated producers to firmly implement the initiatives.

The US February benzene contract was settled at $4.35/gal FOB (free on board), up 51 cents/gal from January, following stronger spot prices and tight prompt inventories during the month.

US January styrene monomer (SM) contracts rose by 4.50 cents/lb because of higher feedstock prices, market sources said.

The settlement brought styrene contracts to 72.50-75.50 cents/lb FOB, market sources said.

Moulders said the new prices would be difficult to transfer to end-users at a time when demand has diminished sharply.

Demand from the construction segment remained the most affected by the recession, but sales of packaging materials and thermal cups were steady, although at reduced levels.

Prior to the February increase, US EPS prices were in the range of 86-91 cents/lb for block material, while in Mexico, prices were about 11 cents/lb higher, based on ICIS data.

The main producers in North America are NOVA Chemicals, BASF and Flint Hills Resources.

 ($1 = €0.74)

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By: George Martin
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