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Material Insights: July 23, 2012

Published: July 23, 2012 6:00 am ET
Updated: July 23, 2012 12:00 am ET

An unexpected drop and potential increase in North American polystyrene resin prices are featured in this week's Material Insights video. In June and July, regional prices fell a total of 3 cents per pound for general-purpose crystal PS and 5 cents per pound for high-impact PS. The drop came even as prices for benzene feedstock increased almost 5 percent between June and July. Benzene prices are usually a good directional indicator of PS prices. Regional benzene prices now have shot up above $5 on the spot market in recent weeks, prompting PS makers to announce increases of 10 cents per pound for Aug. 1. Market watchers have said that if benzene settles near $4.75 for August, then at least half of the 10-cent resin increase has a chance to stick. Georgia Gulf’s merger with the commodity chemicals business of PPG Industries also is featured in this week’s video. Under terms of the agreement, PPG shareholders would control 50.5 percent of the newly former company. Analysts said the merger would improve upstream integration for Georgia Gulf, which is a major producer of PVC resin and compounds and PVC-based construction products. The video wraps up with news that Brazilian resins giant Braskem will delay three plastics-related projects, including two that use sugar cane-based ethanol as a feedstock. Braskem had planned to invest almost $500 million in those projects. Braskem president Carlos Fadigas commented on the delays in an interview with a Brazilian newspaper, but company public relations officials later said the firm hasn't officially postponed any of its projects.

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