Polyethylene (PE) prices moved higher last week but trading was thin as participants mulled producer price-increase initiatives, tight supplies, and talk of continued weak demand, according to spot-trading platform The Plastics Exchange (TPE) and its reporting partner, The PetroChem Wire. In PE contracts, a number of market participants told TPE that prices in May increased by approximately $0.03/lb, with producers pushing an additional $0.03/lb increase in June. Spot trading was quiet, as sellers raised offers by about a penny but buying remained at May levels. Producers continue a policy of producing for orders placed before the beginning of the month, so that availability of generic-prime and widespec resin in the spot market has been limited. When trades were consummated, they were smaller-volume deals for converters needing material now. Spot prices were up about a penny, with linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) film in the mid- to high $0.40s/lb, and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) blowmold and injection grades trading about a half cent below those levels. Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and high-molecular-weight HDPE film were in the high $0.40s to low $0.50s/lb. The export market was slow, with U.S. exporters waiting to see if producer increase initiatives would take hold in June.
Polypropylene (PP) spot prices moved higher, with the market watching tight PP and monomer supplies closely. In the contract market, producers announced increases as high as $0.12/lb for June, citing a sharp rise in propylene and overall tightness in the propylene-monomer market. Opponents to the increase point to continued weak demand in the domestic market. Spot offers ended the week several cents above last week’s levels, but few transactions were concluded. Producers are primarily manufacturing resin for forecast contract volumes, making spot PP scarce. After a flurry of spot buying at the end of May, sellers raised offers in line with higher refinery-grade propylene spot prices. Spot prices for homopolymer PP were in the mid- to high $0.40s/lb, with copolymer PP in the high $0.40s to low $0.50s/lb. These price ranges are up about a penny from the week prior and about $0.04/lb above mid-May levels. Export activity was thin, as traders facing the prospect of higher U.S. prices were reluctant to conclude deals so early in the month.
Polystyrene (PS) spot prices were slightly lower last week, but participants said overall supply remains tight, with very little PS available in the spot market. High-impact spot prices were in the mid-$0.50s/lb range, with general-purpose grades in the high $0.40s to low $0.50s/lb, leaving prices down about a penny. —[email protected]