US July PS prices rise 7 cents/lb on higher feedstocks

01 August 2014 20:54 Source:ICIS News

US July PS prices rise 7 cents/lb on higher feedstocksHOUSTON (ICIS)--US polystyrene (PS) contract prices for July were assessed higher by 7 cents/lb ($154/tonnes) on Friday, based on a spike in feedstock benzene costs.

With the price hike, US July PS prices were at 113-115 cents/lb for bulk general purpose PS (GPPS) DEL (delivered) and at 121-123 cents/lb for bulk high-impact PS (HIPS) DEL, as assessed by ICIS.

Prices moved higher based on an 18% hike in July benzene contracts, which rose by 80 cents/gal to $5.28/gal.  

The price increase ends a stretch of three consecutive monthly price drops in the PS market and puts prices 14% higher than year-ago-levels.

Most buyers agreed they had seen the full increase. However, some buyers, particularly those who are on monomer-based formula pricing, said they will have a one-month delay in implementation of the increase. Producers said by August, everyone will see the full effect.

“The lagging folks will most definitely get the full 7 cpp,” said one producer. “There will be no exceptions. The market is tight and getting tighter, so I see no way that this will not be the case.”

For now, buyers have said they have had no trouble getting the resin that they need. However, the potential for tightness is looming, with one producer declaring force majeure and another producer in the midst of a planned turnaround.

US PS producer Americas Styrenics declared force majeure effective on 1 August, based on concerns about monomer availability. Also, US PS producer Styrolution is in the midst of a planned turnaround at its Decatur, Alabama, PS plant, with two lines expected to be down for two to three weeks, sources said this week.

With August benzene settling lower by 22 cents/gal to $5.06/gal, buyers said they will try to push for a price drop during the month. But one producer said it is planning to keep prices flat for August, saying that they could have raised prices even more in July to cover the huge jump in benzene costs that month.

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

By Michelle Klump