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Synthetic rubber prices likely to remain volatile

Prices for synthetic rubber and petrochemical feedstocks have been “incredibly volatile” and are likely to remain so for a while, according to Bill Hyde, executive director-olefins and elastomers at IHS Markit, a speaker at the International Tire Exhibition & Conference in Akron Sept. 11-13. “Energy- and economy-related fundamentals in the synthetic rubber market are encouraging, but risks abound,” he said.

Meanwhile, natural rubber pricing is largely to remain soft because of oversupply and the need for small farmers to keep on earning a living, according to Hyde.

Spokespersons for various industry sectors generally agreed with Hyde, especially in his assertion that ethylene is the main driver of pricing in the petrochemical and SR world.

“Ethylene is the center of the petrochemical universe,” he said. “It has a lot of co-products, most importantly butadiene. Ninety percent of all the butadiene produced in the world is a co-product of ethylene.”

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