Weekly resin report: Polypropylene prices continue to slide

The spot resin markets started last week slowly but became quite active later in the week, reports the PlasticsExchange (Chicago) in its Market Update. Polyethylene (PE) prices were steady to mostly higher, while polypropylene (PP) prices fell.

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The week began with a surge of website traffic and resin inquiries, but neither buyers nor sellers were willing to budge much on price. Consequently, few transactions were actually brought to fruition. It all came together at the end of the week, however: Practically every deal that crossed the PlasticsExchange trading desk was completed. On Thursday and Friday alone, transacted volumes were high enough that the entire week ended well above average. 

Spot PE transactions were largely elusive during the first part of the week; then deal after deal finally fell into place. Although PE production has been robust so far during 2018, and upstream inventories are healthy, spot material availability remains sometimes scarce by grade, reports the PlasticsExchange. High-density PE exhibited strength, resin for blowmolding jumped $0.02/lb amid scant supply, high molecular weight PE for film inched up another cent and even injection grade, which has been the laggard, managed to eke out a half-cent gain. Low-density PE high clarity for film has continued to rally and prices in Houston again start with a 7. Linear low-density PE resins held flat amid more abundant supplies. Part of the PE market seems poised to add the March $0.03/lb increase onto the February $0.04/ lb gain, but strength is lacking across all materials, which can be problematic for the increase sticking. 

Spot PP trading was very good. Although material was not plentiful, transactions were, especially south of the border. PP production remains restrained, keeping supplies tight, and PGP monomer prices firmed a tad, so it’s somewhat counter-intuitive for PP prices to slide another $0.02/lb this past week. Spot PP prices have eroded $0.08/lb from their January high and are below the hurricane-induced plateau. However, domestic processors are still bearish and buying at reduced levels, as they believe prices will fall further. March PP contracts are set to decrease several more cents, based on PGP levels, but this downward trend could change in April, as a price increase has emerged. The PlasticsExchange reports seeing various and inconsistent margin-enhancing increases nominated that range between $0.03 and 0.05/lb, aside from any change that might happen in monomer. But April is still far away. 

Read the full Market Update on the PlasticsExchange website.

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