Market Fundamentals Drive Polyolefin Price Premiums over Feedstock?
Following the market turnaround in February this year, the subsequent issues relating to polymer production in Western Europe and the weak Euro reducing attractiveness to imports, polyolefin and polystyrene prices became increasingly disconnected from feedstock costs.
However, the gravitational pull from a further fall in crude oil prices at the beginning of July and subsequent falls in C2 and C3 pricing look increasingly difficult to resist. However, polystyrene clearly demonstrated the fragility of the polymer market when a small increase in spot Benzene prices at the end of July resulted in increased demand for PS and subsequent removal of any ‘special deals’.
In August the relative availability of polyolefins has been clearly evident in terms of price action with PP, prices typically softening by more than the C3 cost reduction. Whereas PE pricing has been much more robust, particularly in the cases of HDPE and LLDPE where the market is highly reliant on imports; this scenario is also evidenced by continuing short supply of certain LLDPE and HDPE grades.
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