FocusAsia styrenics continue price rise but demand stays low

22 February 2011 03:53  [Source: ICIS news]

By Clive Ong

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia’s styrenic resins offers continue to rise on higher feedstock costs and eroding margins, a trend likely to continue in the near term, but tepid end-users demand may weigh over bullish sentiment, industry sources said on Tuesday.

Offers of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), polystyrene (PS) and expandable PS (EPS) have risen since last week, but without much participation from buyers.

On 16-17 February, ABS offers were at $2,370-2,390/tonne (€1,730-1,745/tonne) CFR (cost & freight) NE (northeast) Asia, up $30/tonne and EPS offers rose to $1,600/tonne CFR NE Asia, up $30/tonne, according to ICIS.

Meanwhile, high impact PS (HIPS) offers were heard around $1,720-1,740/tonne CFR China, up $20/tonne. There was no change in price for general purpose PS (GPPS).

“Feedstock styrene monomer (SM) and acrylonitrile (ACN) continue to rise after the Lunar New Year, hence we have to target higher prices,” said a South Korean ABS and styrene-acrylonitrile (SAN) manufacturer.

Most suppliers of styrenic resins raised offers by some $20-30/tonne (€15-22/tonne) last week, but traders anticipate further hikes in the near term.

“With energy prices on the increase and the uptrend in raw material [costs], offers of plastic resins would likely trend higher in the near term,” said a trader in Hong Kong.

However, some dealers acknowledged that the higher prices have not been accepted by buyers, who remained mostly on the sidelines.

“Most buyers need to replenish stocks after the holidays, but few were stepping out to buy at this point in time,” said another trader in Hong Kong.

Buyers were said to be looking for a pull-back in price before stepping out to purchase.

“Customers are resistant to the higher prices and many are hoping for prices to recede before placing orders,” said a Taiwanese producer.

“The feedstock costs are very high and our margins are squeezed,” a PS resin buyer said who makes plastic utensils.

The buyer added that PS prices had generally been on an uptrend since July last year, and the rising resin prices had cut into profit margins. GPPS prices rose above $1,550/tonne CFR China last week, from $1,120/tonne CFR China last July.

Apart from ABS - which remains in tight supply because strong domestic demand in South Korea - other styrenic resins, such as EPS and GPPS, were more readily available.

Chinese demand for the resins were expected to show some improvement only from the second quarter of the year when factories ramp up production of finished goods for exports.

“Usually demand in China for styrenic resins warms up towards the middle of the year before entering its peak in the third quarter,” said another Taiwanese producer.

($1 = €0.73)

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By: Clive Ong
+65 6780 4359

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