The volume of polyethylene (PE) spot trading was lower with steady prices last week, according to trading platform, The Plastics Exchange (TPE; Chicago; for more information, including detailed, historical charts, go to www.theplasticsexchange.com). Fresh railcar offers were light in advance of a proposed $0.04/lb price increase for August contracts. Producers had already secured a $0.05/lb price increase for July. TPE believes the increases will be resisted in most quarters, but particularly by converters of high-density and linear low-density PE grades. One aspect of interest is whether European buyers, who have created strong export pull this year, will come back to work buying after the annual August holiday. In their absence, South American importers have stepped up PE demands.
TPE reports that polypropylene (PP) trading volume was lighter with higher prices. Spot demand was fed by a slower than average flow of good widespec resin. Generic-prime railcar prices were $0.02-$0.03/lb higher than in July. Due to a series of external issues, the production of refinery-grade propylene (RGP) is likely to increase soon, damping feedstock costs for PP. TPE says this is a metric to watch, as increased gasoline demand had pulled RGP out of the PP loop, pushing the material over the $0.60/lb mark, where it begins to affect demand. Domestic demand drops continue to be propped up by European import pull, with even higher PP prices there and a strong Euro helping clear U.S. inventories.
Polystyrene (PS) volume was average with slightly weaker prices as contracts gave back the penny they had earned the week prior. TPE reports that railcars of poor color PS with black specs can be found in the high $0.60s to low $0.70s/lb,with good quality general-purpose PS priced in the low-to-mid $0.70s/lb and high-impact PS a couple of cents higher.