North American selling prices for solid polystyrene and suspension PVC both increased in March, as tight supplies and higher feedstock costs impacted those markets.
Regional solid PS prices shot up an average of 6 cents per pound for the month, with suspension PVC prices in the region climbing an average of 2 cents, according to market sources contacted by Plastics News.
PS prices now have climbed for three straight months after being flat in December. Increases in January and February totaled 13 cents per pound.
The March price hike for PS surprisingly went against directional pricing for benzene, which declined by 7 cents per gallon for the month. Benzene is used to make styrene monomer and in recent years has had a strong effect on prices for PS resin.
North American PS sales grew 2 percent in the first two months of 2017, according to the American Chemistry Council. Sales of the material into electrical/electronic uses in particular were strong, growing more than 3 percent in that two-month period.
The regional PS market also should benefit from PS maker Americas Styrenics LLC's recent resumption of full production of styrene momomer st its plant in St. James, La. Production had been down at the site in recent months because of repairs that were needed on critical equipment.
For PVC, the 2-cent hike was the second straight monthly increase for that material. Prices had risen 4 cents in February. Prior to that, prices had been flat since November.
The PVC market is moving into the construction season, which is traditionally strong for the material. More than 60 percent of domestic PVC demand comes from the construction market.
Through February, U.S./Canadian PVC sales were up 3.3 percent, according to ACC. Domestic sales grew almost 6 percent, but were dampened somewhat by an export sales drop of more than 1 percent.
Among end markets, PVC's dominant rigid pipe and tubing sector saw two-month sales growth of almost 8 percent. Smaller demand markets for fencing and decking were up almost 20 percent and for film and sheet were up just over 23 percent during the period.