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Will European PS sellers achieve modest hikes in January?

  • 08/01/2016 (05:20)
Players in Europe have gradually started to return from year-end holidays and a bank holiday celebrated on January 6. Although polystyrene converters are yet to fully return to their desks as some shut their factories during holidays, fresh price inquiries have started and sellers are apparently defying lower monomer contracts with their initial January offers.

Even before monomer contracts had settled for January, expectations had centered on rollovers due to supply constraints for PS. So far, new offers have been revealed with rollovers to €10-20/ton hike requests across the region. Sellers are blaming the ongoing supply tightness in Europe as the main reason behind their firm attitude. Buyers, however, believe that lower styrene and butadiene contracts may cast a shadow on those targets and rollovers may be obtainable in the latter part of January.

January benzene contracts settled down €19/ton from December at the end of last month, before styrene contracts also suggested a drop of €20/ton month over month. ICE Brent crude futures were down by around $3/bbl since January started, with prices hitting as low as $32/bbl by the middle of this week before regaining some lost ground during intra-day sessions on Thursday.

A West European PS producer started to seek €20/ton increases from December in Italy and Turkey. A trader in Turkey commented, “European sellers are receiving support from their still limited allocation. However, ICE Brent crude futures registered drops over the week before gaining some ground late this week and energy markets are following a volatile path amidst political concerns. Buyers in Turkey don’t seem to be in a hurry to replace their inventories right after the new year holiday as they want to keep an eye on the upstream chain.”

In Italy, a distributor reported his sell ideas for South European PS cargos with rollovers while he already started to offer small hikes for West European materials by late this week. “We expect to see a mostly steady pricing trend during this month considering slightly lower styrene contracts,” he said. A disposables converter agreed, “We will resume production starting from next week. We started to make our price inquiries already and there are limited offers in the market for now. Although European suppliers are aiming for initial slight hikes for January, they could concede to stable prices later in the month due to pressure from the cost side.”

A buyer in Belgium voiced his January buy ideas with rollovers for West European PS cargos after wrapping up his December business with €50/ton increases. “Trading activity is limited now and we are just back to the market following a two-week shutdown at our plant. Sellers may ask for rollovers amidst tight supplies and lower monomer costs, while any price hikes could be postponed to February-March,” the buyer argued.

In Germany, a compounder described overall activity as calm for this week, saying that most buyers will resume their production starting from January 11. The buyer reported facing slightly higher offers from his West European suppliers while he will continue to make inquiries before buying material.
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