22 February 2013 12:01 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--February prices in the US polystyrene (PS) market decreased by 2 cents/lb ($44/tonne, €33/tonne), based on lower feedstock benzene prices, sources said on Friday.
Some producers were initially hoping to keep prices flat for all grades of PS. However, when benzene contract prices dropped by 7% in February to $4.80/gal, sources said it became obvious that a decrease was necessary.
There was some discussion that some buyers who saw an increase of 3 cents/lb in January saw a reduction of 3 cents/lb in February. However, one producer said it did not decrease prices by more than 2 cents/lb.
Demand remained weak in the PS market, in part, based on high prices, according to buyers and suppliers.
"In general, we are still close to peak pricing," said one producer. "We saw record high prices in January, which stifled some demand, and now the market is moving down about 2 cents/lb."
Buyers are anticipating another price drop in March, while producers said it will depend on what happens with feedstocks.
In recent weeks, benzene spot prices have softened somewhat, falling as low as $4.60/gal. Spot prices are beginning to rise slightly now, but are still below the February contract price.
One producer said that while benzene prices may be moving lower, styrene prices are holding steady, based on tight supply caused by some recent turnarounds.
US PS prices were assessed by ICIS at 100-103 cents/lb for bulk GPPS DEL (delivered) and 110-113 cents/lb for bulk HIPS DEL.
Major US PS producers include Americas Styrenics, Styrolution and Total Petrochemicals.
($1 = €0.76)
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