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Domestic buyers and export outlets were reluctant to pay a nominated $0.06/lb increase for March polyethylene (PE), according to Michael Greenberg, CEO of plastics spot-trading platform, The Plastics Exchange, resulting in reduced trading volume and steady prices. March deliveries of spot ethylene have risen $0.08/lb since bottoming out at $0.455/lb on Feb. 15, pushing processors to increase PE prices.
Polypropylene (PP) also saw low trading volume and steady prices, according to Greenberg, although spot prices were up $0.005/lb for the week and have risen $0.015/lb in March. TPE believes this reflects lower spot supplies resulting from restricted production rather than strong demand for the material. Here too, monomer prices have rallied, with refinery-grade polypropylene up to $0.5375/lb after going as low as $0.4925/lb in early February. Domestic demand remains weak, with poor economic conditions further dampening the outlook, and while there are some export opportunities, especially to Central and South America, the volume it not enough to compensate for weak demand in the North American market.
Polystyrene trading volume was also low with prices largely steady but climbing, with an increase last week of $0.01/lb. Producers continue to push implementation of a $0.04/lb price increase, with half of that tacked on in February, and a proposed March contract increase of $0.03/lb looms. TPE partner PetroChem Wire reported that spot benzene deliverable in March was up about $0.02/gal this past week, with quotes last Friday at $3.86 to $3.88/gal. This has pushed resin prices back up to historically high levels, at times reaching into the low $0.80s/lb.