15 March 2013 09:17 [Source: ICB]
US expandable polystyrene (EPS) spot prices dropped by 2 cents/lb ($44/tonne, €34/tonne) for March, based on lower prices for feedstock benzene, sources said on 5 March.
March benzene contract prices dropped by 11 cents/gal to settle at $4.69/gal, following recent weakness in benzene spot prices and energy futures. The drop was the second consecutive monthly decline for the US benzene contract.
Buyers had been anticipating EPS prices to fall in February, based on a 7% drop in February benzene contracts. But with feedstock styrene prices holding steady and little competition from Asian EPS imports, producers were able to hold prices flat for that month.
SLOWER THAN EXPECTED
Producers were expecting the price drop to help improve domestic demand in March, after a relatively weak February. However, one producer said it is so far not seeing sales volumes increase as much as had been anticipated.
"The thinking seems to be that the market is going to come down further in April," the producer said, in an effort to explain why demand is not as strong as expected.
One producer said volumes had improved slightly in the past several weeks, as buyers shifted some sales to domestic suppliers from Asian imports.
US prices were assessed by ICIS at 103-108 cents/lb DEL (delivered) for block material and 101-106 cents/lb for package material.
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