Keeping up with industry activity is an important part of overall strategy. Today, we see that the ABS market continues to evolve into an upward spiraling non-stop price increase. We cannot predict when it will end, but we do know that it is in full swing!
The current situation:
All foreign and domestic producers are feverishly increasing prices to counter the rapidly increasing costs of styrene monomer, acrylonitrile and butadiene. Benzene escalation is also affecting the market. There is even speculative buying of ABS in China that is causing ABS supply issues to further complicate the situation. Capacity is also getting tight at some producers, partially because they rescued SABIC customers and tightened up a lot of open compounding capacity. Asian producers have been at it for the last six months, and now the domestics are in full throttle mode as their costs are rising fast now too.
What this means moving ahead:
This is the first time since Jan 2010 that the Asia ABS market price in the US is the same as the domestic producer market price (see graph below). In approximately eight months, this gap has gone from $0.40/lb to zero! It is predicted that the domestic suppliers have at least another $0.10/lb of increase to implement to stay current and manage their margins.
You can expect the domestics (SABIC, Styrolution & Trinseo) to become more active with increases. Additionally, the domestics don’t have the capacity to supply the N. American market which is why the Asian imports have 23% market share in N. America.