TPE resin pricing Oct. 20-24: Continued drops in PE, PP, and PS

October 30, 2008

Poor domestic and global demand, as well as growing economic concerns, and sustained relief in energy and monomer costs, continue to depress resin pricing, with polyethylene (PE) prices off another $0.04 to $0.05/lb and remain under pressure. Spot-trading platform, The Plastics Exchange (TPE; and its reporting partner, The PetroChem Wire (, report that while resin suppliers work to liquidate existing inventories, processors are purchasing only what is needed as it is needed, pushing some to the spot market. Market participants have reported a $0.11/lb drop in October PE contracts, which fell $0.07/lb in September. Generic-prime railcars for most PE grades are readily available in the mid-to-upper $0.60’s/lb, with low-density PE film grades seen in the high $0.60’s/lb. Offgrade PE dipped below the $0.60/lb level at times last week. 

Polypropylene (PP) has now fallen $0.30/lb from historic highs reached in July, with processors here also liquidating inventory in anticipation of further drops, according to TPE. While October PP contracts remain under discussion, some participants are reporting that in addition to the $0.20/lb decrease seen in September, they have been offered a further $0.05/lb reduction for October. Railcars of generic-prime PP homopolymer are available along the full range of the $0.60’s/lb. Widespec offers were seen in the $0.50’s/lb, or even the $0.40’s/lb where material specs were unknown. Generic Prime PP copolymer offers were generally seen in the mid-to-upper $0.60’s/lb, down from the low $0.70’s/lb last week.

Tight continues to be the word to describe polystyrene (PS) supplies, according to TPE, with the scarcity impacting trading activity. TPE has seen importers entering the market as international prices fell, however, creating an alternative source to North American PS producers, which have consolidated in recent years. Spot general-purpose prices fell $0.03/lb from last Friday, ending the week around $0.80/lb. High impact also fell $0.03/lb, ending around $0.90/lb.

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