06 August 2013 22:41 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--US expandable polystyrene (EPS) spot prices dropped by around 1 cent/lb ($22/tonne, €17/tonne) for August delivery, based on competitive activity among US suppliers, sources said on Tuesday.
Prices had been stable for nearly four months in the EPS market, despite significant drops in feedstock benzene costs, including a 7.9% drop in the July benzene contract price.
Less competition from Asian imports enabled US producers to keep prices from falling during the time period from April to July, despite the lower feedstock costs.
So it came as a surprise for prices to fall, even slightly, headed into August, when benzene prices rose by 10 cents/gal to $4.17/gal, sources said.
Some buyers said they saw as much as a 2 cent/lb discount from July prices. However, a producer said it only saw a 1 cent/lb drop for a limited number of buyers. The producer stressed the move was not market-wide.
"It wasn't across the board, but we did meet some competitive offers," the producer said, adding that there was no fundamental cause for a price drop.
Prices are expected to rebound in September, based on expectations that benzene contract prices will rise.
US EPS prices were assessed by ICIS at 97-102 cents/lb DEL (delivered) for block material and 95-100 cents/lb for package material.
Major North American EPS producers are BASF, NOVA Chemicals, Flint Hills Resources, Styrochem, Nexkemia, Polioles and Polidesa.
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