US PS Sept contract prices increase on feedstocks, tight supply

25 September 2013 19:45  [Source: ICIS news]

US PS September contract prices increaseHOUSTON (ICIS)--US polystyrene (PS) contract prices on average rose in September from the previous month by 3 cent/lb ($66/tonne, €49/tonne) for the general purpose polystyrene (GPPS) and at least 1 cent/lb for the high-impact polystyrene (HIPS) due to gains in feedstock benzene and styrene costs and as inventories are tight amid supply disruption, market sources said.

It is the first PS contract price increase since May. The September increase moves PS prices out of the lowest levels of the year, where they had been for two months for the July and August contracts. PS contract prices had last moved in late July when they fell by about 2 cents/lb from June for the July contract settlement.

On 13 September, US August styrene contracts settled at an increase of 1 cent/lb on average from the previous month in its second consecutive monthly increase. On 30 August, the September benzene contract settled at $4.40/gal, up by 23 cent/gal, or 5.5%, from the previous month in what was also a second consecutive monthly increase.

The September increase comes after producers started nominating price increases for monthly contracts as recently as in late August with Styrolution and Americas Styrenics seeking 3 cent/lb more for both PS grades and Total Petrochemicals announcing a 3 cent/lb increase on the GPPS but just 1 cent/lb on HIPS.

As of Wednesday, producers and buyers have largely confirmed the 3 cent/lb increase on GPPS was implemented. As for the HIPS, some buyers confirmed it just went up 1 cent/lb. At least one of the producers who had been seeking a 3 cent/lb HIPS increase was not able to implement that increase to all of his market, sources said.

“Eighty percent of the HIPS market is up 3 cent/lb and 20% just 1 cent/lb,” one source close to a producer who had sought 3 cent/lb for HIPS in September said. HIPS buyers contacted have reported seeing 1 cent/lb increase in September.

Sources have said that HIPS pricing should not be as firms as the GPPS because of weakness in butadiene prices. Contract butadiene prices plunged on average by 30% from July to August. Butadiene is used to make polystyrene more flexible and resistance to impact, the product known as HIPS.

The increase also comes at a time when there have been recent PS supply disruptions. Last week, Americas Styrenics called force majeure for PS production from its Torrance, California plant because of an unexpected shutdown caused by power failure. Supply disruption was expected to be extended into October, sources said.

In addition, Americas Styrenics is also expected to do a planned shutdown of on of three lines at its Marietta, Ohio styrene and PS plant sometime in October.

Due to the supply disruptions and low inventories, all the main North American PS producers, which include Americas Styrenics, Resirene in Mexico, Total Petrochemicals and Styrolution, have announced a 3 cent/lb additional increase in PS prices for the month of October, for all grades, sources said earlier this week.

Some sources have said a relatively short-lived outage in California should not have much impact in supply in the market and pointed that the Marietta plant outage will only be partial. Benzene prices, while stronger compared with recent months, are not as high as they were in the first quarter, sources have added.

After the increase US September PS contract prices as assessed by ICIS were at 100-102 for bulk GPPS DEL (delivered) and 108-110 cents/lb for bulk HIPS DEL.

By: Renzo Pipoli
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