Import PS prices in China and Southeast Asia have been mostly on a stable to firm track since they hit a more than one-year low in around early December. Despite healthy demand and low inventories, sellers either kept their offers stable or applied modest hikes in the midst of slowly rising spot styrene prices.
Pre-holiday demand and low supplies support sentiment
Demand, particularly for GPPS, has been reported to be good so far in January due to buyers’ stock replenishment activities ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday. Low inventory levels have also encouraged sellers to adopt a firm stance on their offers.
A source from a Taiwanese producer noted, “Demand for PS has been healthy for the past month. We received good number of inquiries, particularly from Chinese customers and almost sold out our February allocation.”
Upstream: Styrene slowly rises; bullish trend loses momentum in energy markets
According to data from ChemOrbis Price Wizard, the weekly average of spot styrene prices on FOB South Korea basis has registered a slight increase of around $30/ton since it hit a three-year low in late December.
In the energy markets, meanwhile, the bullish trend of crude oil futures has lost momentum lately as WTI crude oil mostly hovered around $52/barrel last week.
Several players operating in Asia’s PS markets agreed that limited support from the upstream side has kept price gains in check.
PS demand likely to fade as China holiday approaches
Meanwhile, as the countdown has begun for the Chinese New Year holiday, demand for PS is expected to fade away over the next two weeks.
A source from a Southeast Asian producer said, “Most buyers have wrapped up their pre-holiday purchases and demand has started to retreat. We are closely monitoring the developments in the upstream markets now. If styrene maintains its current trend, we might see further hikes in PS prices in the post-holiday period.”