Weekly resin report: PE prices hold steady; PP slips another cent

The spot resin markets remained extremely active through mid-month. Transacted volumes were above average and prices were mixed, reports the PlasticsExchange (Chicago) in its Market Update.

Processors were good buyers, some procuring resin for usage through the end of the year, while others secured material for the first part of January, which is historically a tightly supplied period. The overall flow of fresh resin offers was reduced compared with recent weeks; by Friday, several large resellers had already sold out of their monthly allocations from their December forecasts. The PlasticsExchange expects spot supply to dwindle further as year-end approaches, though off-grade railcars should continue to trickle in.

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The spot polyethylene (PE) market continued to transact at a rapid rate. Completed volumes again were well above average, as both processors and resellers actively tapped the spot market for material. While some orders were specified for January, most required already packaged material for immediate shipment. PE prices managed to hold steady with a firming undertone amid its long-term bear leg. Deeply discounted offers were scooped up and the low end of the pricing spectrum then seemed to lift with credit to excellent exports, rising energy costs and the agreement of a first-phase China trade deal. With the September $0.03/lb PE contract increase peeling off in November and spot prices now stabilizing, it feels as if December contracts likely will roll steady, which would leave PE contracts in a net unchanged position for the year.

Spot polypropylene (PP) trading continued to hum along through the second week of December. Spot prime prices for both homo- and co-polymer PP at the PlasticsExchange trading desk slipped another penny during the week. A nickel has been wiped away over the last 45 days. Demand this past week was split between resellers and end users, with co-polymer exceeding homo-polymer PP sales.

Most of the prime PP business was completed in higher melt truckloads, while railcar deals focused on wide-spec material mostly in the mid-melt range. Offerings dried up late in the week and unmet demand persisted, so we will see if the sharp discounts return during the second half of the month, writes the PlasticsExchange. November PP contracts averaged a $0.03/lb decrease; a similar moderate monomer-led contract decrease is expected in December.

Read the full Market Update on the PlasticsExchange website.

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