Polyethylene (PE) spot prices were mostly steady last week, although some market participants said there were some instances of lower offers for prime spot material, according to spot-trading platform, The Plastics Exchange (TPE), and its reporting partner, The PetroChem Wire. Producers have been seeking a $0.04/lb increase to September contracts, and while some participants said this was still under negotiation, others reported that the increases were finding support due to tight supplies. Adding uncertainty to the situation are unsettled ethylene contracts. Spot-market trading has been thin due to higher offers and the tight supply situation, which has been attributed to local production issues and strong export demand earlier this summer. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) blowmold continues to be discussed in the low $0.50s/lb in the domestic market, with some limited talk of domestic HDPE offers in the high $0.40s/lb. Linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) film butene grade has been at a premium of about $0.015/lb, with high-molecular-weight HDPE film, which has been particularly tight in September, in the mid-to-high $0.50s/lb. TPE reports that low-density polyethylene (LDPE) film is in the high $0.50s/lb. Exports, which have been a key driver of U.S. PE prices during the third quarter, have slowed this month, with HDPE blowmold offers in the $0.46-$0.48/lb range on an FOB Houston basis, amidst limited talk of offers dipping into the low $0.40s/lb for October shipment.
Polypropylene (PP) spot price ideas were lower last week amid waning demand, with market participants reporting that September contracts rose roughly in line with increases in propylene monomer. No October initiatives have been confirmed. Spot PP trading has been slow in September, as traders and processors sought to keep inventories low, saying they were reluctant to accumulate high-priced inventory. On the manufacturing side, PP producers have kept operating rates low this month. Even so, spot prices have started to soften as supply has outpaced demand, with generic-prime railcars of homopolymer PP in the domestic market discussed in the low $0.60s/lb range on a delivered basis. There has been some talk, however, about offers being seen in the high $0.50s/lb, with copolymer PP at about a $0.015/lb premium to homopolymer PP. High U.S. prices have dried up the export market, but there has been some talk that China, with weak demand and expanding inventories, could look to the U.S. and Latin America to unload PP.
Polystyrene (PS) spot prices were steady last week, as general-purpose PS held in the low-to-mid $0.60s/lb, and high-impact PS mostly discussed in the low $0.70s/lb. In the contract market, participants have floated the possibility of a $0.02-$0.04/lb decrease, but an outcome to these negotiations has not been confirmed. —[email protected]