US January EPS prices rise by 3 cents/lb on higher benzene

15 January 2013 21:00  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US expandable polystyrene (EPS) prices rose on average by 3 cents/lb ($66/tonne, €50/tonne) in January, along with higher feedstock benzene costs, sources said on Tuesday.

The price hike was supported by a new record-high benzene contract, which settled up by 23 cents/gal in January to $5.16/gal.

One producer said there was no problem implementing the increase, while another producer said some buyers asked for delayed implementation. However, producers and buyers agreed that the price increase is effective now for all customers.

"The whole 3 cents went in," said one buyer, who added that prices for Asian imports also increased to the point where US prices are the better deal.

Mexico EPS prices also increased by 2-3 cents/lb for January, sources said. Some buyers said they only saw a 2-cent/lb increase, while others agreed the full 3-cent/lb increase had been implemented.

The price increases have not seemed to have a significant effect on demand so far for January, according to buyers and producers, who described demand as in line with January 2012.

One Mexican producer, Polioles, has announced an additional 3 cent/lb increase for February, based on the expectation that feedstock costs will continue to rise.

US producers said they have not announced any increases so far. One producer said with spot benzene costs beginning to slide, it is likely that February will see prices roll over from January.

US EPS prices were assessed by ICIS at 105-110 cents/lb DEL (delivered) for block material and 103-108 cents/lb for package material.

Mexico EPS prices were assessed by ICIS at 120-123 cents/lb DEL for block material and 116-119 cents/lb DEL for package material.

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

($1 = €0.75)

By: Michelle Klump
+1 713 525 2653

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