Average North American selling prices for solid polystyrene dropped in December as buyers worked off year-end inventories.
Prices fell an average of 3 cents per pound, according to several buyers contacted recently by Plastics News. Through September, U.S./Canadian PS sales for 2006 were running 2 percent behind their 2005 volume in pounds, according to the American Chemistry Council in Arlington, Va.
Producers are trying to reverse the slide with increases of 3 cents per pound for January, but market watchers said getting the increase might prove difficult since spot prices for benzene feedstock are tracking lower than expected so far this month.
In the last year, about 600 million pounds of North American PS capacity - roughly 10 percent of the market - has been shut down. Dow Chemical Co. closed a 300 million-pound unit in Sarnia, Ontario, and Nova Chemicals Corp. closed a similar unit in Chesapeake, Va.
Average North American selling prices for solid PS now have dropped an average of 9 cents per pound since Oct. 1. On injection molding grades of high-impact PS, that translates to a price drop of about 10 percent.
Plastics News also is adjusting prices for some commodity and engineering resins this week based on their 2006 performances. In most cases, downturns in 2006 demand had more of an impact than rising raw material costs. These changes affect the following materials:
* Expanded PS, adjusted downward by 8 cents. EPS sales in the region were down about 1 percent through September, according to APC.
* Amorphous and crystalline PET, each down 8 cents. Soft demand offset increased raw materials in the polyester chain. These conditions also sent injection-grade PET and polybutylene terephthalate down an average of 18 cents per pound, sources said.
* Dispersion PVC, down 2 cents as demand receded.
* Styrenic-based materials SAN, SMA and styrenic TPEs also saw prices fall as demand softened. SMA was down an average of 18 cents per pound, while SAN and styrenic TPEs each slipped an average of 11 cents per pound.
All of the above changes are reflected on this week's PN resin pricing chart.