Europe SAN buyers prepare for rises in January prices

31 December 2013 14:10 Source:ICIS News

LONDON (ICIS)--Buyers in the European styrene acrylonitrile (SAN) market are bracing for higher January prices because of an expected increase in the styrene monomer monthly contract price.

European styrene prices saw significant gains towards the end of December, with the market galvanised by talk of possible production and supply chain issues and the potential impact on domestic availability.

Several players in the styrene market noted that higher benzene numbers and inventory restocking would help support at least a modest increase in January styrene, although there were still no firm indications.

The benzene January contract price has been confirmed at a €37/tonne ($51/tonne) increase.

The December acrylonitrile (ACN) contract price rose €24-28/tonne because of the €30/tonne rise in December propylene.

With a €20/tonne increase in the January propylene contract price already agreed, it is likely that ACN prices will also move up next year.

A SAN producer is waiting for the January styrene contract price to be agreed before it sets its January SAN price targets.

“We always wait until SM CP is settled up to define our prices,” the producer said.

A second buyer said this week that it had not yet received any price offers from its suppliers, but expected any increases to be limited.

Traditionally, January sees demand improve from December levels because buyers restock after the Christmas holiday period, though demand in the European SAN market is not expected to show any significant improvement compared to January 2013 levels.

However, the December SAN price settlement was at a rollover to increase of €10/tonne, which is significant because December demand is generally lower due to the shorter working month.

Despite one SAN producer targeting a €30/tonne increase in December prices at the beginning of the month, SAN buyers did not rush to build up stock levels ahead of possible further increases in January because current inventory levels is expected to meet any increase in January demand.

($1 = €0.72)

By Matt Tudball