Spot polyethylene (PE) prices continued their fall last week, losing a few cents, with bigger drops in offgrade materials, according to spot-trading platform The Plastics Exchange (TPE; www.theplasticsexchange.com) and its reporting partner, The PetroChem Wire (www.petrochemwire.com). Processors continue to draw down inventories, anticipating lower prices to come in November, with their relative inactivity contributing to the market’s weakness. TPE reports that the fall in PE prices has not kept pace with steeper drops in upstream monomers, even as producers offer discounted generic prime materials into the spot market. Spot offers for generic prime material for all high-density polyethylene (HDPE) grades were in the low $0.60’s/lb, off $0.03 to $0.04/lb from week-earlier levels. Widespec material is trading lower, going in the $0.50’s/lb. Contract PE prices were reportedly down $0.11/lb in October, after falling $0.07/lb in September. TPE notes that this erases all the increases implemented in 2008, which saw record price levels. Spot prices have also fallen, dropping $0.10 to $0.15/lb in October. Also of note, TPE says the booming export market, which consumed 20% of North American polymer production in the first half of the year, is all but gone, effectively shut down by the global economic slowdown, collapse of crude oil, and plummeting world-wide resin demand.
Spot polypropylene (PP) prices dropped sharply lower this week, losing $0.10/lb, with TPE seeing participants from all market sectors lowering offers significantly in a bid to reduce inventories and stimulate demand. Once the dust settled on Friday of last week, offers for domestic railcars of generic-prime PP homopolymer were seen in the mid $0.50’s/lb, with widespec material in the $0.40’s/lb, and poor-grade material in the $0.30’s/lb. TPE reported railcars of generic-prime copolymer trading in the upper $0.50’s/lb, with offgrade falling into the $0.40’s/lb. Contract prices are reportedly falling in synch with monomer contract prices, which lost $0.25/lb between September and October.
Polystyrene (PS) spot prices dropped slightly, although continued tightness in supply restricted the fall. TPE reports that few domestic railcars have been seen in the spot market, with most supplies coming via international trades. General-purpose PS moved a penny lower, trading in the upper $0.70’s to low $0.80’s/lb. High-impact grades showed a similar slide, trading in the high $0.80’s/lb.