AFPM ’13: US styrene outlook for 2013 remains weak

22 March 2013 23:59  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--With the first quarter of 2013 coming to a close ahead of the International Petrochemical Conference (IPC), some US styrene market participants have said they still expect a lacklustre market for the remainder of 2013, citing weak domestic and overseas demand.

Most styrene trade sources said heading into 2013 they did not expect to see much improvement in market conditions.

This year’s outlook has been more straight forward compared with 2012, which was mixed because of uncertainty regarding the global economy.

Seasonal demand for US styrene is typically strong in September and October ahead of the winter holiday retail shopping season, and again in March and April from the packaging and construction industry ahead of summer.

Suppliers said demand in late 2012 did not materialise as much as expected, while demand in March of this year has been slow to pick up.

So far in 2013, styrene exports for January were shown to be at 161,441 tonnes to start the year, up by 31,260 tonnes or about 24% from 130,181 tonnes in January 2012. The top three destinations for US styrene in January were Mexico, the Netherlands and Brazil.

Export data for February and March have not yet been released by the US International Trade Commission (ITC).

US styrene spot prices in 2013 so far have moved within a 4 cent/lb range since January.

The spot market was at 75 cents/lb ($1,653/tonne, €1,273/tonne) for January, until establishing a 2013 high of 78 cents/lb in mid-February on the back of stronger feedstock benzene prices.

So far in March, styrene spot prices have retreated to a low of about 73 cents/lb following the drop in benzene.

Hosed by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), the IPC runs from Sunday through Tuesday in San Antonio, Texas.

($1 = €0.77)

By: Brian Balboa
+1 713 525 2653

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