US April EPS prices increase despite drop in feedstock costs

08 April 2014 21:19  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US expandable polystyrene (EPS) prices for April have increased by 3-4 cents/lb as producers held firm on an increase to improve margins, sources said on Tuesday.

Producers pushed for the increases despite a 15 cent/gal drop in feedstock benzene contracts for April, arguing that the benzene decrease was not enough to offset other costs that rose over the course of the first quarter.

“All the EPS manufacturers really held firm,” said one buyer, who confirmed the price increase. “Benzene did come down some, but it did not come down nearly as far as what was forecasted.”

Benzene chart

Buyers, particularly those in the packaging sector, said they were seeing improved demand in April, which may have been another factor allowing producers to secure an increase.

For now, it is difficult to tell whether the demand improvement is catch-up from a slow first quarter caused by severe winter weather that caused processor shutdowns across the country in the first few months of the year.

“Maybe a little bit of the pick-up is weather-related,” said one buyer. “February and March were light, and April is picking up a little bit.”

The price increase may make room for some Asian imports to come into the market, particularly for delivery on the west coast. However, for now, buyers said that they were not hearing a lot of offers for Asian resin and were not really interested at the price levels that they heard.

US EPS prices were assessed by ICIS at 104-108 cents/lb ($2,293-2,381/tonne) for package material and 106-110 cents/lb for block material.

Major North American EPS producers are BASF, NOVA Chemicals, Flint Hills Resources, Styrochem, Nexkemia, Idesa and Polioles.

By: Michelle Klump
+1 713 525 2653

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