Polyethylene (PE) spot trading saw good volume and slightly higher prices in the last week, although producers have delayed a $0.04/lb price increase until September, according to spot-trading platform, The Plastics Exchange (TPE; Chicago; for more information, including detailed historical pricing charts, go to www.theplasticsexchange.com). Producers have also posted a $0.05/lb price increase for Sept. 15, however, anticipating weather-related delivery interruptions as the Atlantic hurricane season hits its full stride, with Hurricane Erin flooding parts of Texas and forcing the shutdown of ethylene crackers. TPE reports that PE inventory levels are at comfortable levels for producers, in spite of adding 66 million lb in July. Exports remain strong and continue to prop up weak domestic demand, according to TPE, which says that U.S. PE consumption alone is not enough currently to push prices higher. If exports go away, oversupply could lead to a precipitous drop in prices in North America.
TPE reports that polypropylene (PP) trading was higher with consolidating prices that are up about $0.01/lb in August to the low $0.60s/lb. Processor demand is struggling, according to TPE, but higher August monomer contracts of $0.47/lb are pushing prices up, with August resin contracts expected to settle $0.015-$0.02/lb higher. TPE says U.S. PP producers have maintained near 100% capacity of nameplate products, using exports here as well to keep inventories in check.
In polystyrene (PS), trading volume was fair with steady process. Spot railcars ranging from offspec to prime are available at all levels of the $0.70s/lb. TPE reports that producer inventory levels remain comfortable, as they continue to successfully match PS production with demand.