Styrenics prices continued their rapid decline in December 2018, following the latest decrease of the styrene reference. Producers, however, retained part of the cost reduction, improving their margins.
Demand for packaging styrenics was rather subdued, as many processors took company holidays or cut back production. In addition, many market players reduced their inventory levels for balance sheet reasons. Many processors will consequently have tried to rebuild stocks in January 2019.
The current price level provides a strong incentive to stock up before the planned maintenance shutdowns of styrene plants reduce supply and fuel a price upswing. The styrene reference for January was fixed at €15/t ($17) lower than the previous month. Market players therefore widely expected styrenics prices to bottom out in the next weeks.