European polystyrene sellers cautious about July price cuts to Italy

06-Jul-11
Italy’s PS market has been under renewed downward pressure from lower styrene costs, as Europe’s July styrene contracts settle fully with an average decrease of €95/ton from June following an €80/ton drop in July benzene contracts, as per ChemOrbis. Plus, market dynamics in Italy remain bearish given ample supplies, particularly for GPPS versus persistently slow demand. Competitive prices from some import supply sources and the approaching summer holidays across Europe are also adding to the sentiment, forcing PS sellers to reduce July prices further. European PS sellers, however, are cautious about July price cuts in order not to sacrifice their margins any longer after seeing almost no improvement in demand last month despite consecutive price cuts. Being aware of the downward pressure on regional producers, majority of buyers preferred to delay purchases last month for as long as possible, while some looked for import alternatives to pay less. In light of players’ reports so far, initial PS offers seen in Italy indicate smaller decreases compared to that of styrene. In the spot market, a seller of West European origin revealed July prices with €65/ton decreases from June while a couple of converters reported hearing July prices with monthly decreases of €50-70/ton. Another seller of South European origin offered similar decreases of €65/ton on his initial PS prices, saying that it is too early to understand the likely direction of demand for now. A source at a large West European producer also reported reducing their official prices for their July gentlemen’s agreements by only €65/ton for GPPS and €35/ton for HIPS compared to last month. The source noted that they are not willing to reflect the full styrene decrease onto their prices especially for HIPS. Supported by a €180/ton increase in July butadiene contracts, HIPS is partly protected from the downward pressure for another month, which is also the case in other global markets. PS producers in Europe continue to keep a large premium on HIPS over GPPS pointing to strong butadiene costs, like they did last month. A West European producer, offering HIPS with a €140/ton premium over GPPS for July, plans to widen the price difference to €150/ton later as HIPS supplies are tighter than that of GPPS, according to the producer. Other sellers are also offering HIPS with at least a €100/ton premium over GPPS for July.
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