. Discipline among producers and processors has kept inventory levels lean, prompting some of the increase. TPE notes that lower production rates by PE producers are due in some part to tightness in the ethylene market. Anticipating price increases, resin end users have stepped up purchases of spot resin, but in spite of the increased activity, traders are cautious that the momentum can be sustain and are looking to sell inventories now. Reports on January prices were mixed, with some seeing implementation of a $0.07/lb increase, while others said prices were flat. February contract prices continue to be negotiated, with several producers seeking to secure January’s proposed $0.07/lb increase in February, in addition to another $0.05/lb increase for the month. Producers have generally nominated an additional $0.06/lb price increase for March. Generic prime railcars of high molecular weight (HMW) high-density polyethylene (HDPE) film were priced in the high $0.40s/lb last week, while HDPE blowmolding and injection grades were in the low-to-mid $0.40s/lb. Butene grades of linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) film were in the low-to-mid $0.40s/lb, with LDPE film priced in the high $0.40s and even low $0.50s/lb. TPE notes that exports continued to flow last week to Mexico and Latin America, with some deals concluded to Asia, and European inquiries emerged, although the arbitrage doesn’t work for commodity-grade materials. In production news, Dow said it plans to shut its Poly 2 LDPE plant in Freeport by the end of March due to current economic conditions.
Spot polypropylene (PP) was also active last week, with prices steady to higher amid good demand and strength in propylene monomer. TPE notes that February contracts for PP remain under discussion, awaiting February’s propylene-monomer settlement. Producers have indicated interest in lifting prices between $0.06 and $0.08/lb for February shipments, with January contracts roughly in line with the $0.02/lb increase in polymer-grade propylene monomer. Spot prices were steady to higher last week, with generic-prime railcars of homopolymer PP offered in the mid $0.30s/lb. Copolymer PP was seen in the mid-to-high $0.30s/lb. Export deals were inked primarily to Mexico and Latin America, but TPE notes arbitrage to Asia has re-opened, with traders there making inquiries.
Spot polystyrene (PS) inched lower last week amid ongoing worries about poor demand. In spite of limited spot supplies, prices dropped about a penny. A few railcars of general-purpose PS were available in the high $0.40s to low $0.50s/lb. High-impact PS was priced in the mid-to-high $0.50s/lb. TPE notes that rough and off-color material was priced at a nice discount. —[email protected]