TPE resin pricing, July 27-31: PE, PP steady; PS rises

Polyethylene (PE) spot prices were steady last week as July contract talks continued for many participants, according to spot-trading platform The Plastics Exchange (TPE) and its reporting partner, PetroChem Wire. Offers remained in the high $0.40s and low $0.50s/lb for most PE grades, with low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) film grades offered in the mid-to-upper $0.50s/lb. As offer levels rose, TPE noted that export interest waned, resulting in increased PE avails. The majority of spot trades consummated last week consisted of back-to-back deals for limited volumes. TPE attributes this to slowly rising ethylene prices upstream and general volatility that have left few processors interested in building inventory. This dynamic has also meant resellers have largely refrained from taking a position for forward markets. Given that upstream ethylene contracts have not yet settled for July, lingering PE discussions regarding July contracts remain likely, even as the market enters August. Some producers continue to push for a $0.04/lb increase, while others have temporarily given up on that, pushing the increase forward to August. Overall, spot PE prices were mixed during July, depending on the grade. LDPE prices started the month at $0.55/lb and ended it at $0.555/lb. Linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) prices spent most of the month at $0.505/lb, beginning and ending it there. HDPE blowmold prices were $0.50/lb on July 1, and ended the month at $0.495/lb. HDPE film started the month at $0.53/lb and ended it at $0.525/lb. July’s daily price averages for key grades were higher than in June, with LLDPE daily spot prices averaging about $0.50/lb in July compared to $0.48/lb in June. HDPE blowmold prices averaged $0.50/lb in July, compared with $0.475/lb in June. In the futures market, interest continued to be seen, particularly for HDPE blowmolding, which was consistently offered at $0.45/lb for the fourth quarter of 2009 and at $0.46/lb for the first quarter of 2010 via the Nymex Clearport system.

Polypropylene (PP) spot prices were steady last week, with offers remaining in the high  $0.40s/lb. Traders report increased availabilities from producers, but volumes have been limited at the current offer levels. Domestic demand remains weak, with few willing to build inventory in this environment. July contract negotiations were still not fully concluded, but many participants said prices were expected to be up about $0.01/lb for the month. August price increases of $0.05/lb have been issued, but mixed monomer contract prices could mean that the full $0.05/lb increase would be difficult to implement. Export opportunities for PP are on the decline, with U.S. offers deemed “unworkable” in most regions. Overall, spot PP prices fell about $0.02/lb during July, starting it around $0.50/lb and ending it around $0.48/lb. However, daily price averages were nearly unchanged between June and July prices, with July homopolymer PP averaging around $0.48-$0.49/lb, while July averaged around $0.485/lb.

Polystyrene (PS) spot prices continued to rise, supported largely by benzene gains and a continued pull on styrene exports. Supply has been tight all year, and July has been no exception. Overall during July, spot general-purpose PS rose from $0.52-$0.56/lb, while high-impact PS prices rose from $0.58-$0.62/lb. [email protected]

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