A major hike in benzene feedstock prices has sent North American prices for polystyrene resin up since Oct. 1.
Prices for all grades of solid and expanded PS are up 6 cents per pound for the month, according to market sources contacted by Plastics News. Prices had increased 3 cents in both August and September.
All three consecutive hikes are connected to fluctuations in price for benzene feedstock, which is used to make styrene monomer. Benzene prices surged 21 percent to $4.04 per gallon in October — a jump of 70 cents vs. September prices.
A recent benzene market update from chemanalyst.com said that U.S. benzene prices "remain on the higher edge amidst inclined demand and limited [upstream] supply chain in the domestic market."
"The stronger rebound in gasoline and transport fuel demand this year has caused trade dynamics to shift for several chemical products that are finding greater value in blending, raising demand for benzene," the report added. The report also cited higher benzene demand from styrene, cumene, ethylbenzene and acetone markets.
"The predominant factor affecting overall benzene market dynamics is the rise in crude oil prices and limited inventories in the U.S. market," it said. "Benzene prices are expected to rise further in the domestic market [because of] the operating rate and increased production costs, which will likely significantly influence the benzene market's overall dynamics."
North American PS prices are up a net of 8 cents per pound and benzene prices up 97 cents so far in 2023. Global PS markets have been dealing with oversupply and low demand growth for most of the year.