The comprehensive and extensive coverage of Polystyrene, compiled by our team of locally-based reporters gives market players up-to-date and in-depth independent and unbiased pricing information. The weekly price assessments are covered in Asia, Middle East, CIS, Europe, the US and Latin America.
There are also margin reports and 12-month rolling series reports for Asia, Europe and the US, while the forecast report looking forward a year is for Europe only. Market news and analysis gives the reader the tools required to make essential commercial decisions. Commentary within the reports includes overviews, demand and supply, production issues, feedstock movements and any other factors influencing the market at the time of publication.
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Polystyrene: Market overview
Updated to Q4 2017
Overall polystyrene (PS) output is expected to trend down in Q4. In additional to production losses during extended holidays such as the 1-8 October Golden Week in China, several plants in southeast Asia, involving more than 200,000 tonne/year of capacity, will be shut at different periods during the quarter for maintenance work, each lasting for more than a month.
Demand from the manufacturing-for-exports sector in China is expected to be minimal, if not diminished, during the fourth quarter, as the peak production period in Q3 has passed. Requirements from other PS applications are unlikely to be robust either in view of a typical year-end lull for most industries.
The rail problems at the Rastatt tunnel in Germany that caused some disruption in polystyrene (PS) supply are expected to be resolved early October. Thereafter, availability is expected to return to its normal level while it can be supported by imported volumes, depending, however, how attractive these can be for the European market.
The drop in the October feedstock styrene contract is expected to revive buying interest in the European polystyrene (PS) market. However, demand will probably only reach expected levels for this time of the year and will move lower towards the end of the quarter and ahead of the Christmas break.
One plant in Brazil is down for lack of styrene but expected to return soon. Brazil's supply outstrips demand, so this stoppage will increase prices with tighter, but still adequate availability of product.
Demand goes up in the summer of the Southern Hemisphere with more consumption of disposables and with a boost to the appliances sector from the year end holidays.
Asian supply of polystyrene (PS) to the Middle East and south Asia is expected to remain stable in Q4, even though several plants are undergoing maintenance. Upstream styrene monomer (SM) supply is likely to be stable, contributing to a constant supply of PS.
Middle East and South Asia demand is expected be stable-to-soft in the last quarter of the year amid the lull demand season for polymer trade. Middle Eastern buyers have preferred sourcing from their regional supplier because they offer goods on a delivered-to-factory basis. According to market sources, buyers are heard well-stocked for the quarter.
Consistent supply during the first three quarters of this year is expected to remain the same in the fourth quarter. There has been no discussion of planned turnarounds in the North American market during the year’s final quarter. Fourth-quarter imports hit the lowest level of the year in 2016. However, in 2013 and 2014 imports hit the highest level in the fourth quarter.
Demand in the fourth quarter typically begins to drop in November, and hits the lowest level of the year in December. Export demand was steady during the first seven months of the year. However, exports during the fourth quarter between 2013 and 2016 either hit the lowest or next-to-lowest point of the year during the fourth quarter.
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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.