HOUSTON (ICIS)--At least two North American polystyrene (PS) producers have separately nominated price increases of 5 cents/lb, effective 1 April, market participants said on Friday.
Price drops in April follow stronger prices during the last three months. Average price increases during the first quarter averaged 19 cents/lb ($419/tonne) , according to ICIS assessments.
Domestic prices are down by 5 cents/lb in April, one distributor said. The source added that it was not seeing the same price direction on imports from Asia.
The domestic PS market takes most of its cues from the feedstock benzene market. April benzene contract prices fell by 57.5 cents/gal, hitting the lowest price since December. Between December and February, benzene contract prices firmed by an average of $1.12/gal.
April supply is a little snug, but people can get the PS they need, one market participant said. Feedstock styrene supplies are improving, but that can take a while to work its way through the market, one source said.
Supply of general purpose PS (GPPS) is seen as a little tighter, while there is more availability for high impact PS (HIPS), according to a market source.
April is a good demand month, one producer said. Things pick up between late winter and early spring, as converters fill up warehouses.
In terms of production, no turnarounds are planned for this quarter, one producer said.
Year-to-date PS imports were down by 27% in February year on year, according to the US International Trade Commission. Imports from Mexico during that timeframe were half of what they were the previous year.
Also of note, imports from Brazil during the first two months of this year were over four times higher than the same period in 2016.
North American PS producers include Americas Styrenics, Group Idesa, INEOS Styrolution, Resirene and Total Petrochemicals USA.