Styrene costs indicate decreases since the beginning of September both in Asia and Europe, in line with declining upstream costs as per the plastics pricing service ChemOrbis. Meanwhile, the largest part of these decreases occurred last week.
In Asia, styrene prices are $120/ton lower on FOB Korea basis when compared to the beginning of the month while $100/ton of this drop was recorded last week. Looking at Asian benzene prices, spot offers are down by $110/ton from the start of September while prices indicate $65/ton decreases on week over week basis.
A similar panorama is seen in Europe, too, with spot styrene prices retreating $150/ton on FOB NWE basis since the beginning September and the decrease amount is $60/ton on a weekly basis. European spot benzene prices are also $170/ton weaker on CIF NWE basis when compared to September 1st but offer levels recorded $100/ton of this cumulative decrease amount within a week’s time.
Meanwhile, towards the end of last week, oil prices recorded the largest drop seen within almost two months, over $5/bbl, and reached levels last seen in early August. The glum global economic outlook played the main role in this decrease. According to MarkitEconomics’s initial estimation, the Eurozone’s manufacturing output dropped below 50 for the first time since July 2009 in September while concerns over the European debt crisis could lead the region’s economy back into recession are intensifying.
Following the drop in oil prices, naphtha prices also lost ground in Asia and Europe. Asian spot naphtha prices were down $45/ton on CFR Japan basis when compared to the previous week’s levels while European spot naphtha prices were $75/ton lower CIF NWE on week over week basis.
Looking at the downstream PS markets, they also responded to these bearish developments amidst persistently weak polymer demand. In China, overseas producers issued $10-50/ton decreases over this past week although they complained that their price cuts failed to revive any buying interest. Nowadays, buyers expect further decreases, supported by lower upstream costs and thin demand, which will be exaggerated by the approaching National Day holidays in China as per the plastics pricing service ChemOrbis. The one week long holiday will take place in the first week of October. Therefore, PS demand is not expected to recover at least until the middle of October.
In Italy, overall PS demand is performing exceptionally slow with €30-50/ton decreases passing in the spot market while sellers are complaining that their sales performance is poor. Meanwhile, gentlemen’s agreements are yet to settle but buyers are currently pushing for €30-40/ton decreases when compared to August. Comfortable supply levels coupled with lower upstream costs exert an additional downward pressure on the market. The October outlook also signals for further decreases in the regionwith the lower styrene costs posing as an indicator for the next month’s monomer contract. According to a distributor, their West European supplier is already planning to issue decreases of around €30-50/ton for October given the slow demand and comfortable supplies inside the region.