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Sept outlook blurs for PS markets in Asia, Europe on volatile styrene

by ChemOrbis Editorial Team -
  • 14/08/2017 (04:25)
Spot styrene prices both in Asia and Europe have been following a volatile trend over the past weeks, casting a shadow on market players’ earlier firm expectations for the near term. Defying the steadily firming ethylene prices in both regions, the styrene market fluctuates in the midst of instant shutdowns/restarts at some regional plants, slightly higher benzene prices and the recent downturn in crude oil futures.

Despite the lower styrene settlement in Europe, PS sellers were able to wrap up most of their August business with rollovers from July as they did not concede to discounts in deals, citing the gains of styrene earlier in the month.

However, following their significant gains, spot styrene prices on FOB NWE basis turned bearish last week, casting a shadow on firm PS expectations for September. Some players attributed the recent plunge of styrene to improving supply levels during the holiday period.

A distributor in Italy noted, “We don’t have a clear idea as to how Shell’s outage at the Pernis refinery will affect the PS market in September. In early August, styrene prices responded to this development by posting three-digit hikes; yet they have cancelled most of their gains recently.”

Looking at the Asian markets, styrene prices pared their earlier losses at the start of last week, yet they turned softer again on Friday. This volatility led to different pricing policies to be adopted by PS sellers in China and Southeast Asia.

A Taiwanese producer offering to China and Southeast Asia noted, “We kept our GPPS prices stable on the week while cutting HIPS by $20/ton given the lack of demand. On done deals, we still concede to discounts of around $10-20/ton. The near term outlook is being blurry due to the styrene’s fluctuations.”

A few players opined that Formosa’s upcoming styrene shutdown may lend support to the market to some extent in the second half of the month while others expressed weaker expectations amidst lower oil futures.

A Southeast Asian producer rolled over its PS offers from the previous week, saying, “We believe that traders might soon start to build up some stocks in case the market turns firmer in line with the approaching manufacturing season ahead of the Christmas. However, this may still not be enough to push the PS market higher unless styrene prices abandon their current volatility and firm up.”
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