TPE resin pricing, Oct. 13-17—PE, PP, and PS all drop; PP off $0.25/lb from July highs

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October 24, 2008

Polyethylene inventories are growing as suppliers continue to hold out for lower prices, according to spot-trading platform The Plastics Exchange (TPE) and its reporting partner The PetroChem Wire. TPE reports that the export market largely dried up in the third quarter, with global drops in energy prices removing much of the cost advantage once held by U.S.-produced resins. Processors’ PE prices in September fell $0.07/lb, on the basis of lower monomer costs, and while October prices are still being negotiated, market forces point to another decline. TPE says spot domestic offers for PE were mostly in the low to mid $0.70’s/lb, with low-density polyethylene in the high $0.70’s/lb. At these levels, TPE says prices are off $0.05/lb from September and $0.10 to $0.12/lb from August.

Polypropylene (PP) trading increased at TPE, with prices falling as offer volumes rose, driven by drops in upstream crude oil, gasoline, and refinery-grade propylene. Some processors reported a $0.15 - 20/lb drop in September PP contracts to PCW, with some October offers already falling an additional $0.05/lb. Going back to July highs, spot PP is down an average of $0.25/lb, according to TPE with domestic railcars of generic-prime PP homopolymer seen in the mid and high $0.60’s/lb, and good offgrade railcars sold in the high $0.50’s/lb. TPE has heard of low-end PP available in the upper $0.40’s/lb.

TPE described domestic polystyrene (PS) supplies as still “very tight”, with fallout from the consolidation among PS producers in North America continuing. Prices have slipped, with TPE reporting domestic spot offers for general-purpose grades down to the mid $0.80’s/lb, and high-impact PS down but still in the $0.90’s/lb.     

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