HOUSTON (ICIS)--US styrene spot prices extended their losses this week, hitting the lowest level in 18 months on falling Asian demand and prices, which has affected the European market the same way.
US spot prices fell by 1.59 cents/lb ($35/tonne) week on week, and have dropped by 12.93 cents/lb, or by 22%, since the end of September.
Upstream ICIS benzene spot prices hit the lowest level in two years late week, and have dropped by 60 cents/gal since 22 October.
Arbitrage opportunities for US styrene exports remained poor amid weak demand in key global regions.
Due to lower Asian – and specifically China – demand, European exports to Asia have fallen. As a result, US exports to Europe have dropped because there is no need for backfill material.
Styrene spot prices in China have fallen by 21% since 12 October, and by 25% since the middle of August.
Potential buyers in the US remained on the sidelines, not wanting to purchase material when prices are in the process of falling.
The spread between US spot styrene and spot benzene prices last week narrowed to the lowest point in 11 months, as spot styrene prices fell at a faster rate than spot benzene prices.
The spread between the two products narrowed to 12.645 cents/lb, from 13.723 cents/lb in the prior week.
The spread between the two products had not fallen below the 13 cents/lb threshold since December 2017.
ICIS US styrene spot prices ended the week at 44.44-44.90 cents/lb, down from 44.90-47.62 cents/lb a week earlier.
North American styrene producers include AmSty, INEOS Styrolution, LyondellBasell Chemical, Pemex, Shell Chemicals Canada, Total Petrochemicals and Westlake Styrene.