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The plastics spot-trading platform, The Plastics Exchange (TPE; Chicago) reports that trading volume for polyethylene (PE) was high, with prices steady to firm. Healthy PE margins have promoted high production rates for the material, in spite of tepid domestic demand and slowing exports. Producers put a $0.06/lb price increase in place at varying rates, and Middle East tensions could push prices higher. Natural gas prices were up $0.33 mm Btu, but spot monomers remain discount priced. According to TPE, comonomer linear low-density PE had achieved the full $0.06/lb price increase, but high-density PE has only risen $0.03-$0.04/lb. Going forward, April price increases are calling for $0.04/lb in low- and high-density PE, with $0.07/lb planned for linear low.
In polypropylene (PP), volume was average with steady prices, and the spot market was struggling. Lower quality grades are seeing lower demand, and a $3.50/bbl increase in oil prices could push refinery grade propylene to $0.355/lb. TPE reports that producers have cut offers of spot generic prime, hoping to push through a $0.04/lb price increase for PP in April. In the face of minimal export demand, PP producers are waiting on stronger domestic demand, according to TPE.
In polystyrene (PS), TPE saw average trading volume with firmer prices. PS producers have secured most of a $0.04/lb price increase, and while there are still some low-quality lots to be found in the $0.60s, most are now in the $0.70s. In fact, producers have already nominated a $0.04/lb increase for April.