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The Plastics Exchange Week in Review: PE, PP higher; PS steady

In the face of rising feedstock prices, polyethylene (PE) producers continue to push for a price increase, according to Michael Greenberg, CEO of spot-trading platform The Plastics Exchange (TPE; Chicago), nominating a $0.06/lb increase for April contracts. For the week, PE prices did move higher, on lighter trading volume, but overall PE prices have held steady in spite of soaring energy and feedstock costs since mid-February. Ethylene, in particular, has moved higher according to Greenberg, with spot monomer climbing into the high $0.50’s/lb, as planned and unplanned ethylene outages contracted supply.
In polypropylene (PP), trading volume was good with higher prices, as producers push for April price increases of around $0.05/lb. Greenberg says that the prolonged period of low production margins in PP has left producers more disciplined in output, and for the past several months, operating rates have been reduced. For the time being, Greenberg and TPE expect spot PP prices to “flirt” with $0.70/lb, with lower-priced spot cars moving quickly and being replaced with higher priced offers.
Polystyrene (PS) trading volume improved with steady prices, after producer already implemented a $0.04/lb price increase in $0.02/lb increments spread over February and March. Greenberg says recent fresh offers have all been in the low $0.80s/lb, with benzene down from the $4/gallon level but still high at $3.73 to $3.84/gallon.
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