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Europe’s styrenics markets signal stabilization after 2 months of hikes

by Manolya Tufan -
  • 01/04/2024 (12:01)
Regional styrenics markets witnessed hefty price increases in the past two months, supported by soaring styrene prices and scarce import offers. Purchasing activity slowed down in March in response to the inflated price levels, while the PS and ABS markets gave signs of stabilization heading towards April.

PS prices hit one-and-a-half-year high

Even though recent price levels stand slightly below early March levels following some revisions, both GPPS and HIPS ext. prices stand at their highest levels since September 2022. ChemOrbis Price Index showed that the weekly average for both grades posted cumulative increases of €400/ton since the uptrend kicked off in February to be reported at €1850-1880/ton for GPPS and €1950-1980/ton for HIPS, all on FD, 60 days deferred payment basis.


ABS sees hikes of up to €300/ton in 2 months

In Italy and West Europe, ABS prices were propelled higher by curbed output within the bloc and scarce imports given delays related to the Red Sea crisis as well as firmer Asian markets.

Indeed, ABS extrusion prices in Italy hit a year-high in March after posting cumulative increases of €300/ton since February. ABS inj. prices rose by €280/ton in the past two months to hit their highest levels since late May 2023. In West Europe, ABS prices posted €280/ton increases to stand at their highest levels since April 2023.

Stable to slightly firmer expectations prevail for April

Participants mostly shared stable to slightly firmer expectations for next month, pointing to the ebbing demand on one side and the cost-push on the other side.

Despite fluctuations during the month, spot styrene prices still stand close to their peak at $1600/ton FOB NWE seen last month. Expectations call for a mostly stable to slightly firmer outcome in the next styrene settlement. April benzene settlement indicated an increase of €37/ton from March, while April butadiene contract settled €70/ton higher earlier.

On the demand front, purchasing activities slowed down ahead of the Easter holiday. Moreover, earlier pre-buying activities to hedge against further price gains kept buyers on the sidelines, not to mention the ongoing stagnancy in derivative sectors amid economic challenges. Given holidays within the bloc, trading activities are not likely to improve in the following weeks. This coupled with a potential relief in supply levels amid the arrival of import cargos may thwart further hike attempts in April, players concurred.
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