US January EPS prices increase on feedstocks

14 January 2014 19:34 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US expandable polystyrene (EPS) spot prices rose this week, as January price hikes were implemented on higher feedstock costs, sources said on Tuesday.

US prices rose on average by about 4 cents/lb ($88/tonne) for all grades of EPS, based on higher costs for feedstocks benzene and styrene.

Some Canadian producers only implemented a 2 cent/lb increase for the month, with talk that the remaining 2 cents/lb may be implemented later in February.

The ICIS price assessment narrowed on the top end of the range, as increases as the higher end of the range were limited.

The price increases were based on higher feedstock benzene contracts, which rose by 35.5 cents/gal for January and higher styrene contracts, which rose by 4.5 cents/lb in December.

“They are there,” said one buyer, speaking of the higher prices. “It is expensive.”

While US suppliers admitted they lost some volume to Canadian suppliers who were offering lower prices, they said they would rather lose a little volume than lose margin.

“The margins have to be right, or there is no reason to sell,” a producer said.

Prices in Mexico were also heard to be increasing, with some sources saying prices there only rose by about 2 cents/lb, with expectations that more would be implemented later.

With benzene spot prices continuing to rise, sources said there was a possibility that prices may increase again in February.

US EPS prices were assessed by ICIS at 102-105 cents/lb for package material and 104-107 cents/lb for block material.

Mexico EPS prices were assessed by ICIS at 112.50-115.50 cents/lb for package material and 116.50-119.50 cents/lb for block material.

Major North American EPS producers are BASF, NOVA Chemicals, Flint Hills Resources, Styrochem, Nexkemia, Idesa and Polioles.

By Michelle Klump