Will European styrenics markets witness three digit hikes in Feb?
The main reasons behind sharp increases are cited as strong derivative demand and tightening supplies ahead of global maintenance shutdowns. Upstream benzene prices, which are under upward pressure due to insufficient prompt availability, also supported the bullish trend in the styrene market. Since early January, spot styrene prices increased by around $215-220/ton while benzene prices rose by around $240-245/ton.
European buyers decided to build stocks ahead of maintenance shutdowns. Downstream demand has also improved with buyers building stocks to avoid paying another round of massive increases.
A converter in Belgium affirmed that there was a strong demand in the PS market by saying, “We inquired for extra volumes to avoid increases in February; still European producers are allocating only limited volumes as they are receiving more inquiries for additional quotas in the second half of January. We expect further increases of up to €100/ton on PS prices in February.”
February butadiene contracts were fully settled with a huge increase of €460/ton to be reported at €1400/ton ($1494/ton) FD NWE. Prior to the butadiene settlements, a West European producer commented, “We expect further increases for the first quarter of 2017 as butadiene costs are under pressure. ABS availability was good for January despite limited import volumes from Asia. As for February, we expect another round of three digit hikes.”
A different converter from Italy lamented that it is hard to pass costs onto their end products, noting, “ABS prices might even reach €2000-2050/ton in February. Speaking frankly, we haven’t bought ABS above €2000/ton since 2012.”
A seller from Italy expects further hikes of €100-150/ton on ABS considering that styrene settlements might be agreed up €50-100/ton while benzene might post increases of up to €100-120/ton in February.
Skyrocketing butadiene costs are believed to widen the gap between HIPS and GPPS prices, which currently corresponds to €90/ton.
As for ABS, prices are reported at €1750-1900 for both injection and extrusion grades on FD Italy, 60 days while ABS injection and extrusion prices stand at €1780-1920/ton on FD NWE, 60 days. In Italy, PS prices stand at €1400-1500/ton for GPPS and at €1490-1590/ton for HIPS, while in Northwest Europe, prices are quoted at €1450-1550/ton for GPPS and at €1540-1640/ton for HIPS, all on local terms.
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