TPE resin pricing, March 9-13: PE, PP, and PS drop, but March increases loom

March 16, 2009

Polyethylene (PE) prices were lower in the spot market last week, as feedstocks were sold off and traders moved to reduce inventory levels, according to spot-trading platform The Plastics Exchange (TPE) and its reporting partner The PetroChem Wire. TPE says deals that were concluded were in single rail car or truckload quantities. Contract prices were not settled last week, with producers seeking increases of $0.05/lb for March. Buyers, however, believe implementation of any increase is becoming increasingly unlikely. Contract prices rose around $0.07/lb between January and February, in an environment with rising feedstocks, reduced production, and tight supply. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) grades for injection and blowmolding, as well as linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) film butene, were priced in the low-to-mid $0.40s/lb last week. High-molecular-weight HDPE film was in the mid $0.40s/lb, while low-density polyethylene (LDPE) film grades remained relatively tight and were priced in the high $0.40s and low $0.50s/lb. TPE reports there was some interest in export materials, mainly to Mexico and Latin America, but transactional volumes were limited. Overall export activity is far below levels seen in the first part of 2008, when U.S. PE drew regular interest from Latin America, Europe, and Asia.

Polypropylene (PP) prices were lower last week as spot offers increased and spot refinery grade propylene traded lower. TPE says contract prices remained under discussion for March, with producers proposing increases of $0.04/lb and higher. Here too, processors are resisting increases on the basis of overall weak demand for PP. In spite of efforts to match PP production with supply, recent inventories of the material have grown as demand has remained sluggish. Spot PP prices ended the week about a $0.01 to $0.015/lb lower, with homopolymer in the low-to-mid $0.30s/lb and copolymer priced with a one-and-a-half to two-cent/lb premium. Export interest was thin last week, but some deals were concluded, with traders bidding for PP into Mexico and Latin America.

Polystyrene (PS) prices were down $0.01 to $0.02/lb last week on persistent demand worries. TPE reports that some traders experienced lighter spot availability, but market wide, supplies increased. General-purpose grades were priced in the mid-to-high $0.40s/lb, with high-impact grades in the low-to-mid $0.50s/lb. [email protected]

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