North American EPS producers seek additional 3 cent/lb Feb hike

06 February 2012 21:53  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Two North American expandable polystyrene (EPS) producers have announced a mid-month price increase of 3 cents/lb ($66/tonne, €50/tonne) for February, based on increasing costs of feedstock styrene monomer, sources said on Monday.

BASF and its Mexican joint venture, Polioles, each announced a 3 cent/lb increase, effective on 16 February, according to customer letters obtained by ICIS. It was not clear whether other North American producers were also seeking an additional increase.

The proposed price hikes are on top of a 5 cent/lb increase EPS producers are seeking for 1 February.

"The continued escalation of raw material costs has impacted styrene monomer, a key feedstock used in the production of EPS," BASF wrote in a 2 February customer letter. "This has resulted in pricing that does not reflect the costs being incurred to produce our material."

The proposed February increases follow successful implementation of a mid-January price hike of 4-6 cents/lb, depending upon the grade.

One buyer said it did not know what to make of the additional price increase nomination for February, saying it was still negotiating the original 5 cent/lb nomination for the beginning of the month.

The buyer said it did not see the justification for an additional increase, particularly given the fact that feedstock benzene has fallen in recent days along with values for crude oil. Benzene contracts for February settled at $4.20/gal, but spot prices dropped below $4/gal last week.

US EPS prices for January were assessed by ICIS at 88–94 cents/lb for package material and 90–96 cents/lb for block material.

Mexico EPS prices for January were assessed at 105–107 cents/lb for package material and 109–111 cents/lb for block material.

Major North American EPS producers are BASF, NOVA Chemicals, Flint Hills Resources, Styrochem, Nexkemia, Idesa and Polioles.

($1 = €0.76)

By: Michelle Klump
+1 713 525 2653

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