Players in China and Southeast Asia report that PS prices are set to rise to new record highs as persistently firm styrene prices are pushing sellers to seek another round of price increases, as per the pricing service of ChemOrbis. PS prices have already moved above the levels seen in 2008 when crude oil prices hit a record high of more than $147/barrel on the NYMEX.
Based on an average of CFR China prices using data from ChemOrbis Price Index, HIPS prices on a CFR China basis set a new record high of $1888/ton in October 2012, eclipsing the previous record high of $1850/ton set in July 2008, the same month during which NYMEX crude oil prices hit their record high of more than $147/barrel.
HIPS prices have held largely steady since October but producers and traders are already starting to announce significant increases from December, suggesting that this month may set yet another new record. GPPS prices on a CFR China basis were within $50 of the July 2008 record in October 2012 and have since been rising at a quicker pace than HIPS.
Surging prices for PS have capped demand for the product in the region. Some players report that buyers who would normally use HIPS are switching to ABS instead as the price differential between HIPS and ABS has shrunk dramatically and currently stands at approximately $40/ton on a CFR China basis.
Through the first ten months of the year, China’s PS imports are down 3.4% when compared with the same period of last year in spite of the fact that general polymer imports over the same period have risen by 4.6% year over year. “Our Taiwanese supplier is seeking significant increases on their GPPS and HIPS prices this week, but we are reluctant to accept any further increases as we had been struggling to sell at our previous prices,” a trader based in Shanghai told ChemOrbis.