HOUSTON (ICIS)–The US expandable polystyrene (EPS) market was largely quiet this week after prices rolled over from April to May last week, market participants said on Tuesday.
One major reason for the rollover was the direction of feedstock benzene spot prices in April, market sources said.
Benzene contract prices jumped by 41 cents/gal at the end of March, but spot benzene traded below the contract price during the entire month of April. As a result, May benzene contracts settled down by 9-11 cents/gal at $2.08/gal.
Additionally, it became apparent in April that EPS demand was lower than expected. Some of that was the result of pre-buying in March, as buyers knew that prices would likely be going up in April.
US and Canada total sales and captive use jumped by 27.6% in March year on year, according to the American Chemistry Council (ACC).
Producers were successful in pushing through a price increase of 5 cents/lb in April. Producers separately announced the 5 cents/lb price increase for April around mid-March.
Market participants say that May volumes are increasing from where they were in April.
North American EPS producers include Dart Polymers, Flint Hills Resources, Grupo Idesa, Nexkemia Petrochimie, Nova Chemicals, Plasti-Fab, StyroChem International and Styropek.