AKRON, OHIO (Dec. 15, 10:35 a.m. ET) — North American prices for solid polystyrene and PET bottle resin each have dropped since Nov. 1, as demand for both materials cooled as the year draws to a close.
PS prices fell an average of 3 cents per pound, although some buyers reported smaller drops for general-purpose PS, while others reported larger drops for high-impact PS.
The decrease followed a 6-cent October drop and once again was tied in to weak demand and lower prices for benzene feedstock, which is used to make styrene monomer. Benzene prices fell 5 percent in November to $3.15 per gallon. Prices in October had fallen 18 percent vs. the previous month.
High-impact prices are dropping more quickly than general purpose grades, according to PS market analyst Stacy Shelly, because of steeper drops in price for butadiene feedstock that is used to make HIPS. Regional prices for butadiene fell about 18 percent in November, said Shelly, who is with Resin Technology Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas.
Butadiene prices for December already have fallen another 13 percent, meaning furhter HIPS price drops for December are a possibility. Even with the November decline, regional PS prices remain about 14 percent above their level on Jan. 1.
In PET, prices have fallen an average of 5 cents per pound since Nov. 1. That drop comes on the heels of a 2-cent dip in October. The November price drop pulls the number of price drops seen by North American PET even with the number of increases. The market has seen four of each.
Lack of demand played a role in the November drop, as cooler temperatures led to less consumption of carbonated soft drinks and bottled water. And there's been little new demand to take its place, as no major conversions from metal, glass or other materials gripped the PET market in 2011.
Lower prices for paraxylene feedstock also affected November pricing. Even factoring in the November drop, regional PET prices remain about 11 percent above where they were at the start of the year.