Weekly resin report: Processors are focused on immediate needs, and they are paying the price

Spot resin trading was on the slow side last week. Transactions were difficult to complete and it took some serious hustle by the PlasticsExchange (Chicago) trading desk to generate a tad above-average volumes, notes the resins clearinghouse in its Market Update. Production issues, upstream restocking and strong exports continue to keep surplus resin from overly weighing on the market.

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Polyethylene (PE) prices were mixed and polypropylene (PP) levels again were softer. Processor demand was off and buying interest was focused on filling immediate needs—think truckloads rather than railcars. Buyers seem to be gravitating toward minimal purchases with hopes of lower prices ahead. 

PE trading pulled back, volumes were reduced and remained fairly spread out along the full range of commodity resins. There was a bit of a run on high-density PE for blowmolding, and prices jumped $0.02/lb as supplies snugged up, writes the PlasticsExchange. High-molecular-weight PE for film held its lofty level due to production issues and the force majeure noted in last week’s report. Low-density PE high clarity added a half-cent, while linear-low-density PE butene lost the same, reestablishing the full $0.05/lb premium, which is fairly typical. Prime low density and linear low density for injection were scarce, but were fairly available as widespec. PE exporters complained of limited availability, as producers seem to be selling more into international markets directly. The $0.04/lb increase appears solid in February, and there is another $0.03/lb nominated for March. 

Spot PP gave back another cent as negative sentiment took a tighter grip on at least the buy-side of the market. Processors were confident that the $0.09/lb cost-push increase endured in January will unwind between February and March, the bulk of it in February, according to the PlasticsExchange. In the meantime, overall PP supplies, particularly prime, are still tight and high-flow material is actually hard to come by. However, rougher PP material has been more available and seen discounted into the export market. While buyers have backed away, seeking to hold minimal inventories, those in need of urgent material are still paying the price for immediate supply.

Read the full Market Update on the PlasticsExchange website.

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