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Expandable polystyrene producers attempt to claw back margin lost from Nov-Feb: EPL

Valencia, Spain — Expandable polystyrene producers are attempting to claw back margins lost from November-February, sources said on the sidelines of the European Petrochemical Luncheon in Valencia, Spain.

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The styrene contract price rose Eur535/mt ($565/mt) between November and February, while the EPS net contract price saw an increase of Eur490/mt, according to S&P Global Platts data.

Despite solid monthly increases in the styrene contract price, there have been instances when the EPS net contract price was a rollover, a source said.

A second source said that despite limited volumes, EPS buyers had looked for substitute material as EPS product was too expensive.

Earlier in the year, EPS production units were said to be reducing their utilization rates as producers were unable to pass on rising costs to customers due to slow demand.

EPS demand is seasonal as a large proportion is used in the construction industry, which sees lower activity during winter months.

In March, the styrene contract price was settled at Eur1,650/mt, up Eur90/mt month on month.

An EPS buyer said this week a major producer was asking for March prices Eur120/mt above February prices, adding some deals had already been concluded up Eur90-100/mt month on month, in line with the monomer increase.

Platts assessed the EPS net contract price at Eur1,870/mt FD NWE Wednesday, up Eur90/mt month on month.

Expandable polystyrene sellers hoped there would be opportunities to grow margins later in the year as EPS demand further strengthens in April when the construction industry is in full swing.

--Yuriko Kato,
--Edited by Dan Lalor,