Polyethylene (PE) spot prices were steady to lower last week but trading was relatively quiet, according to spot-trading platform, The Plastics Exchange (TPE) and its reporting partner, PetroChem Wire. In the contract market, several participants said that a $0.04/lb contract price increase proposed in September was largely implemented. Suppliers have issued a $0.05/lb contract price increase for October, but no agreements have been reported. Some participants reported that the increase initiative was being delayed.
Many sellers were holding offers at levels that reflected the September contract price increase of $0.04/lb, but buyers were not purchasing at those levels, participants said, noting that demand has weakened in recent weeks and that some spot deals were being concluded at August and 1H September levels. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) film-grade supply was reported to be tight, while HDPE blowmolding and injection grades were said to be more widely available.
In the spot domestic market, some offers were seen this week for generic prime HDPE blowmolding and injection grades in the high-$0.40s/lb range, while others continued to offer material in the low-$0.50s/lb range. LLDPE film material was available at about a $0.015/lb premium. High-molecular-weight film was reported to be trading in the low-to-mid $0.50s/lb, while LDPE film was at about $0.02 more costly. Buyers have largely remained on the sidelines of the spot market, according to TPE, as they wait to see what contract pricing does this month before committing to spot purchases.
The PE export market slowed as Chinese buyers exited the market. HDPE blowmolding material traded in the low $0.40s/lb on an FOB Houston basis, while LLDPE film butene grade remained at about a $0.015/lb premium.
Polypropylene (PP) spot prices, meanwhile, moved lower last week. Suppliers have issued a $0.02/lb price increase for October PP contracts, but many participants said that they expected prices to in fact hold steady or fall. PP contract prices were up roughly $0.12/lb in September.
Buyers for PP were hard to find in last week’s spot market, reporting reluctance to take on any inventory in anticipation of future price reductions, reported TPE. Even as PP suppliers have sought to keep production rates low, market participants said that demand has become increasingly weak over the past two months.
Generic prime homopolymer PP was trading in the low $0.50s/lb in the domestic market later in the week, while copolymer PP was at about a $0.015/lb premium. Prices are down from the low-to-mid $0.60s/lb in September. Off-grade material traded in the low $0.40s/lb. As with PE, the export market remained quiet as Asian demand has softened and U.S. prices remain uncompetitive.
Polystyrene (PS) buyers on the spot market saw little change last week, reports TPE. High-impact PS (HIPS) was to be had in the high $0.60s/lb-low $0.70s/lb. General-purpose PS grades were selling in the low-to-mid $0.60s/lb. Contract prices for PS fell about $0.04-$0.06/lb in September. —[email protected]