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European April PS, ABS demand slow amid higher than expected styrene CP

London — European demand for polystyrene and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene has been slow in April amid a higher than expected April styrene contract price, according to sources.

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The April styrene contract was fully settled at Eur1,325/mt ($1,640/mt), down Eur125/mt. While the monthly decline was sizeable, the industry had expected a larger price fall in the range Eur150-200/mt.

Styrene production issues in late March supported an uptick in styrene spot prices before the April contract price settlement. This also resulted in a smaller monthly price decline -- or a higher styrene CP -- than initially expected.

PS and ABS prices have fallen on the month in April, tracking the Eur125/mt styrene price fall, but styrenics demand remained lackluster as buyers minimized orders.

"[Demand has] not recovered from March," an ABS seller source said, adding that customers are "buying what he or she needs."

In addition, a large backwardation in the styrene market has led to expectations that the May styrene contract price will be settled lower than April, which would place downward pressure on styrenics prices.

Some buyers were hopeful that further price decreases will be introduced later this month.

"People want to buy," a GPPS trader source said. "[People are] shopping around at the moment," he said.

The GPPS net contract price was assessed Wednesday at Eur1,490/mt ($1,845/mt) FD NWE Wednesday, down Eur110/mt from late March. The ABS contract was assessed at Eur1,885/mt ($2,334/mt)FD NWE Wednesday, down Eur50/mt from late March.

--Yuriko Kato, yuriko.kato@spglobal.com