US PS March prices settle flat despite lower benzene

28 March 2014 18:43 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US polystyrene (PS) contract prices for March were assessed as flat on Friday, as tight supply outpaced a slight drop in feedstock benzene costs.

With the rollover, US March PS prices were at 112-114 cents/lb ($2,469-2,513/tonne) for bulk general purpose PS (GPPS) DEL (delivered) and at 120-122 cents/lb for bulk high-impact PS (HIPS) DEL, as assessed by ICIS.

Buyers had been pushing for a price drop of as much as 2 cents/lb, based on a 14 cent/gal drop in March benzene contracts.

However, producers held firm on pricing, as supply remained tight, in part because of production and logistics problems related to severe winter weather that hit much of the US in January and February.

Now, buyers have turned their attention to April prices, with many saying they will try again to push for a price drop, based on the expectation that April benzene contract prices will slip again.

“I am expecting a price reduction of a couple of cents, minimum,” said one buyer.

Another buyer said that PS producers have learned to control supply by reducing production levels to keep inventories low. The buyer said any decrease will be based on a drop in feedstocks rather than any expectation of improved supply.

Major US PS producers include Total Petrochemicals, Styrolution and Americas Styrenics.

By Michelle Klump