US EPS prices steady in July on higher benzene, weaker demand

10 July 2012 21:10  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US expandable polystyrene (EPS) prices will remain flat in July, with higher feedstock benzene contract prices counteracting downward pressure from weakening demand, sources said on Tuesday.

Buyers had been anticipating another price drop for the month after prices fell by 2-3 cents/lb ($44-66/tonne, €36-53/tonne) in June. But once July benzene contracts settled up by 19 cents/gal to $4.30/gal, buyers and suppliers said any discussions about further EPS price reductions were halted.

"It was looking like prices should be down a little bit [in July], but then benzene just went nuts," said one buyer, who said it did not expect prices to move lower until possibly September.

Demand was beginning to weaken across all sectors, in part because of substitution of cheaper alternative materials, and in part because of the lagging economy, sources said.

However, the weak demand was not expected to have much of an impact on pricing in the near term, particularly as prices for Asian imports are beginning to rise, sources said.

US EPS spot prices were assessed by ICIS at 94-99 cents/lb DEL (delivered) for block material and 92-97 cents/lb DEL for package material.  

Major US EPS producers are BASF, NOVA Chemicals, Flint Hills Resources, Styrochem and Nexkemia.

($1 = €0.81)

By: Michelle Klump
+1 713 525 2653

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