A strong GPPS market was one of the most striking features in China’s polymer market over the course of 2012, with developments in China reflecting a larger global trend, as per Chemorbis. Pushed higher by
persistent increases in styrene feedstock costs, GPPS prices gained significantly relative to HIPS and PP over the course of the year. Relatively better demand for GPPS relative to HIPS and greater
volatility in HIPS feedstocks such as butadiene kept the gains in HIPS prices limited relative to GPPS.
At the start of 2012, B-grade HIPS prices on an ex-warehouse China basis traded with a premium of around US$170-220/ton over B-grade GPPS prices. HIPS prices gained relative to GPPS during the spring and the summer, with the premium for HIPS hitting a 2012 high of slightly more than US$260/ton during June. However, the premium declined below the US$200/ton threshold by mid-September and has been steadily losing ground ever since. During the months of November and December, the premium for B-grade HIPS over GPPS has never broken the US$50/ton threshold and has sunk as low as US$25/ton. Import GPPS prices also
enjoyed a strong year in China, with the premium for import GPPS on a CFR China/FCA Hong Kong, cash basis relative to homo-PP injection and raffia prices on a CFR China, cash basis witnessing large increases over
the course of the year, as per ChemOrbis. GPPS prices opened the year with a premium of around US$200/ton over homo-PP and the premium fluctuating between US$100/ton and US$200/ton during much of the first nine months of the year. GPPS prices began posting strong increases relative to homo-PP after the Chinese National Day holidays in early October, with the premium breaking the US$300/ton threshold at the start of November and ending December close to the US$400/ton threshold.