Polyethylene (PE) prices were mostly steady last week, with the market characterized by strong export demand and lean inventories in the U.S., according to spot-trading platform The Plastics Exchange (TPE) and its reporting partner The PetroChem Wire. Traders said Chinese interest ebbed by the end of last week, with overstretched Houston bagging facilities limiting export sales. April contract discussions continue with producers hoping to implement the $0.05/lb increase that was originally sought in February and again in March. So far this year, market participants report a $0.07/lb increase has been implemented between January and February, followed by an agreement to keep prices flat in March. High-density polyethylene blowmolding and injection grades were in the low-to-mid $0.40s/lb, with linear low-density polyethylene film butene in the mid $0.40s/lb. Low-density polyethylene film was in the high $0.40s to low $0.50s/lb. The export market continues to drive the U.S. PE complex, according to TPE, with export prices at a premium to delivered domestic railcars. Shipments continue to flow to Mexico, South America, and China.
Polypropylene (PP) prices were steady as processors sought material amidst strong export demand. TPE says inventories throughout the supply chain are light, with competition for material strong. April PP contracts remain under discussion, with some market participants feeling contract prices will remain flat this month. PP Producers nominated a $0.03/lb increase for April contracts after PP prices rose about $0.01/lb in March. In the spot market, homopolymer is in the high $0.30s to low $0.40s/lb, with the high end of that range the FOB Houston warehouse price. Copolymer remains at about a $0.01-.02 premium. The export market exhibited a heavy flow of PP, notably to China, with the overseas pull pushing prices higher in the Houston area.
Polystyrene (PS) spot prices were also steady last week, with general-purpose grades in the mid-to-high $0.40s. High-impact PS was in the low-to-mid $0.50s/lb. TPE says producers have proposed a $0.02/lb increase for April 1, with another $0.04/lb for April 15 amidst rising feedstocks and light supplies. —[email protected]