18 May, 2018
PS prices across Asia have followed a mostly firming path since the start of April triggered by climbing upstream chain. Yet, some players are skeptical about the sustainability of increases for the coming term due to mounting resistance on part of converters.
Regional PS producers applied renewed increases of $30-50/ton on their GPPS and HIPS offers this week, mainly pointing to higher spot styrene prices in the region as a justification. According to the weekly average data from ChemOrbis Price Wizard, spot styrene prices on an FOB Korea basis stand at almost a 3-month high these days.
A Taiwanese PS maker issued $40-50/ton increases at the beginning of this week, citing rising styrene and butadiene prices in Asia, before conceding to slight discounts of $10/ton later in response to resistance from customers. A producer source reported, “We are free from stock pressure since we plan to conduct a turnaround at our PS plant in June. Nevertheless, the high ends of the import market are lacking interest as prices moved up so rapidly.”
Another Taiwanese producer believes that PS prices still have room to go up over the short term considering the higher feedstock costs. “We are about to sell out our May quotas. Demand from China is not bad, while Southeast Asia is slow amid Ramadan,” a producer source noted.
“Buyers started to resist the upward trend. Yet, we expect PS prices to remain firm due to bullish crude oil futures,” a Southeast Asian producer stated. The seller is optimistic about demand from China for May-July considering the peak season in the electronics sector. Another supplier, who almost closed May sales, similarly said, “Although demand is not tremendous, we expect it to pick up in June while limited domestic styrene supplies are also supporting downstream PS.”
On buyers’ side, meanwhile, a manufacturer in the Philippines lamented, “The prevailing PS prices are too high to work, while we don’t expect the market to rise more amid cautious demand. We are covered until July.” A manufacturer in Malaysia received Korean offers with increases of $30-50/ton for GPPS and $50-60/ton for HIPS, saying, “Prices continued to rise although supply is sufficient.”