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In light trading volume, polyethylene (PE) prices drifted higher, according to Michael Greenberg, CEO of spot-trading platform The Plastics Exchange (TPE; http://www.theplasticsexchange.com). In the face of a $0.03/lb price increase nomination for May and $0.05/lb for June, processors have been willing to purchase on the spot market, according to Greenberg. Driven by higher energy and feedstock costs, many PE suppliers have limited their production, which has cut inventory levels industry wide. Strong export sales continue to fill a gap created by weak domestic demand.
Polypropylene (PP) showed good trading volume with prices steady to higher, as spot prices added a half-penny/day over the past week. Thus far in May, Greenberg reports that producers on average will achieve about a $0.05/lb bump on May contracts. Greenberg notes that upstream, refinery-grade propylene, which has historically traded several cents below ethylene monomer, currently has a $0.10/lb premium. PP market participants are anxious to see costs controlled and to avoid the spiraling of prices in polystyrene, which ultimately led to demand destruction.
In PS, prices were higher with light trading volume, as PS added a penny last week, with $0.07/lb added through May. TPE partner The PetroChem Wire (http://www.petrochemwire.com) reports that benzene has reached $4.35/gallon on the spot market. That fact, and spot ethylene approaching $0.60/lb, is pushing PS producers to seek an additional $0.04/lb increase for general-purpose PS, with a $0.06/lb increase for high-impact PS.