Polystyrene Prices, markets & analysis
With a network of price reporters across Asia, Europe and the US, ICIS is fully equipped to keep you updated on everything that happens in the global Polystyrene market, whether you buy or sell Polystyrene or related products.
From daily and weekly reports containing price assessments obtained by our network of local reporters, to the news and analysis that put the market into focus, we provide the tools you need to make confident business decisions.
Polystyrene overview Transcript
Polystyrene is a resin, mainly sold in pellet form. It is shaped into a variety of products including cups, disposable dinnerware, take-out containers and toys.
Polystyrene in the US is a mature market with limited growth potential.
Producers have consolidated in capacity and have become better at managing inventories, producing on a ‘as needed’ basis.
With supply and demand more imbalanced, feedstocks are now the main driver of US polystyrene prices.
Benzene forms a large part of the polystyrenes cost structure. Because of its status as an imported commodity in the US, benzene prices can change rapidly. This has introduced unwelcome price volatility to polystyrene producers and buyers in recent years.
Ethylene, butadiene and natural gases are also important upstream markets to watch.
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Polystyrene news and market information products from ICIS
We offer the following regional Polystyrene analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Polystyrene marketplace.
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Polystyrene: Market overview
European polystyrene (PS) prices are poised to rise in January, due to higher feedstock costs and improving demand, following the seasonal December lull. Two sellers formally announced that they are seeking price increases of €50-70/tonne for January, in an effort to boost thin margins, on the back of higher demand. Nevertheless, buy side sources are unwilling to pay anything over the January styrene monomer (SM) increase of €35/tonne. Because of the disparity between price views, sources expect January price discussions to be protracted. Looking further ahead, market players say PS prices are very likely to take direction from feedstock SM cost movements. Buy and sell-side sources have indicated that the SM price volatility in the second half of 2013, which saw feedstock costs rise over the last three consecutive months, has severely squeezed PS margins. Furthermore, buy side sources have said that their customers are increasingly considering product substitution in light of the price volatility. Sellers and buyers alike complain that they are struggling to pass on the price increases.
Meanwhile, US polystyrene (PS) prices are expected to continue to rise in the first quarter of 2014, as volatile feedstock pricing continues to exert upward pressure. US prices ended 2013 with a 4 cent/lb December price hike for both general purpose polystyrene (GPPS) and high impact polystyrene (HIPS). In the first weeks of the new year, producers revised January nominations upwards to 6 cents/lb for all grades, effective at the first of the month. A 35.5 cent/gal rise in January benzene contracts is fuelling the latest increase. However, market participants are expecting prices to hold steady or ease a bit by February, when there are expectations that benzene supply will improve. Buyers have said pricing is nearing the point at which it is getting too high and it might begin to hurt demand. Market participants are expecting minimal growth for PS for 2014.
In Asia, PS demand is expected to remain in the doldrums. While most suppliers have managed to hold on to their offers, demand in the region tapered off in January ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays in end-January. The high PS prices relative to other plastics such as polypropylene (PP) have reduced demand as some users switched to cheaper resins. The near price parity of HIPS and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) has also prompted users to favour the latter, given ABS’s higher impact strength. Suppliers could not reduce prices of resins as feedstock SM values remained firm. Consequently, traders expect PS demand to remain in the slow for the first quarter and possibly even into the second quarter. The peak season for exports usually starts in July and end in October each year. Hence, some traders expect PS demand in Asia to remain weak in the first half of the year as demand for Asia-made goods show limited improvement.
Updated to mid-Jan 2014
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Polystyrene Asia Margin Report Methodology
Polystyrene Europe Margin Report Methodology
Polystyrene US Margin Report Methodology
Polystyrene (PS) is a clear, crystalline resin which burns with a sooty flame. It is soluble in cyclohexane (CX), ethylbenzene (EB), ethyl acetate (etac), carbon disulphide, but insoluble in ether, acetone, phenol and saturated hydrocarbons.
Two main types of PS are produced: crystal or general purpose polystyrene (GPPS) which is a clear, amorphous resin with good stiffness and electrical properties but it is brittle; and medium and high impact polystyrene (HIPS) which contain varying levels of polybutadiene to improve toughness and impact resistance.
Polystyrene is used in a variety of consumer and commercial products with major applications in domestic appliances, construction, electronics, toys and food packaging. Included in food packaging are food and dairy containers, closures, lids, produce baskets, vending cups and fast food containers.