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Polystyrene prices drop 3 cents

By: Frank Esposito

May 8, 2014

North American solid polystyrene prices tumbled down an average of 3 cents per pound in April, according to market sources contacted by Plastics News.

The drop came after regional solid PS prices were flat in March, even though prices for its key benzene feedstock fell almost three percent vs. February to $4.95 per gallon. Benzene prices fell again in April — dropping three percent to $4.80 per gallon — and this time they took solid PS prices down with them.

Market watchers said another PS price dip is a strong possibility for May, since benzene prices for the month already have settled down almost five percent vs. April to $4.57 per gallon. Prior to the flat March and the April slide, regional solid PS prices had soared up a total of 15 cents between December and February.

North American solid PS sales were down almost 1 percent in March, when compared to the same month in 2013, according to the American Chemistry Council in Washington. Sales of the material to compounders tumbled almost 10 percent for the month.

Through March, regional PS sales were down just over 3 percent in 2014. Sales to resellers and compounders were off almost 11 percent, while sales into consumer and institutional ends uses were down almost four percent.

PS sales into the material’s dominant food packaging/food service end market provided a bright spot in the first quarter, increasing more than 1 percent. That category accounted for almost 58 percent of all PS end uses during the quarter.

Regional PS supplies are expected to be tightened by the end of 2014 as Styrolution LLC phases out its PS plant in Indian Orchard, Mass. That plant has annual capacity of more than 300 million pounds.