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European PS follows SM lower in Sept, ABS flat on tightness

by Manolya Tufan -
  • 13/09/2021 (10:09)
In Europe, spot PS markets have reversed the course amid lower styrene settlement and unsupportive supply-demand dynamics. However, ABS prices have moved sideways amid ongoing tightness and relatively better demand.

PS sees drops of around €55-90

After closing August with hikes, European PS markets moved visibly down as September kicked off despite earlier expectations calling for a stable to slightly softer trend. Sharper than expected styrene drop was cited as the reason.

Spot GPPS and HIPS ext. prices have posted cumulative drops of around €550-580/ton since they came off their peaks as of early June, ChemOrbis data showed.

HIPS extends premium over GPPS

With tighter availability, suppliers elected to apply slightly smaller decreases on their HIPS offers. HIPS prices now carry a premium of €110-120/ton over GPPS instead of a traditional gap of €100/ton. An increase in the monthly butadiene settlement also capped larger decreases for this grade.

FD – Italy – GPPS – HIPS

Although GPPS supplies at a regional supplier remained tight, overall availability for this grade has improved recently. This was attributed to the lower consumption amidst EU’s Single-Use Plastic (SUP) Directive compared to previous years as several industry participants switched to other products.

A disposable manufacturer said, “GPPS demand is dropping amid reduced orders from the airline companies.”

Although overall PS demand is deemed calm, EPS demand remained fairly well. Initial September offers started to emerge with rollovers. Sources reported tight supplies for EPS black, white, and grey.

Participants continued to report robust demand in the construction sector and tightness amid a lack of imports and regional production glitches. Total Petrochemicals’ Feluy EPS plant remained under force majeure as of early September. According to market sources, Synthos has been facing unspecified production issues at their EPS plant in Poland, as a side note.

Tightness props up ABS

When it comes to ABS, regional suppliers have mostly maintained their prices, pointing to the higher butadiene settlement that counterbalanced the styrene drop. Moreover, supply-demand imbalance continued to pervade the market.

ABS availability has remained tight despite recent slowdown in the automotive and appliances sectors amid a global chip shortage. Players continued to report lingering disruptions after plant restarts.

Logistics snarls and uncertainties put buyers off from securing import material from Asia. Indeed, data from ChemOrbis Stats Wizard reveal that Italy’s cumulative ABS imports fell by more than 20% on a quarterly basis in Q2 2021.

Since the enduring shipping problems show no signs of abating, a supply relief is not expected until the year-end.

Styrene hits above FOB $1350/ton

In upstream markets, spot styrene has been moving upwards despite volatility in oil prices. Hikes were attributed to the US disruptions in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. Players will be observing the lingering impact of the storm on the European market.

According to ChemOrbis Price Wizard, spot styrene on FOB NWE basis posted cumulative increases of $160/ton in the past two weeks to stand at around $1365/ton.
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