Polyethylene (PE) spot prices moved higher last week due to a tight market, rising upstream prices, and renewed export interest, according to The Plastics Exchange (TPE) and its reporting partner, PetroChem Wire. Producers have proposed a $0.03/lb increase for June PE contracts, with one announcing another $0.08/lb increase for July. Implementation of these changes might be another issue, with market participants saying PE demand continues to lag. Overall, PE prices were up about $0.03/lb in May, and a total of $0.15/lb so far this year. Supplies of wide-spec and generic-prime PE on the spot market have been extremely limited, with producers still reportedly only manufacturing resin for orders placed ahead of the start of the month, and wide-spec material that is available is generally trading at the same level as generic prime. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) blowmold and injection grades traded in the mid- to high $0.40s/lb, with linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) film butene in the high $0.40s/lb. High-molecular-weight HDPE film was in the high $0.40s to low $0.50s/lb, with low-density polyethylene (LDPE) film in the low to mid-$0.50s. TPE reports that prices overall were up $0.01-$0.015 last week and have risen about $0.035 from end-of-May levels. Export interest was also on the rise as Asian traders again bid for material, with significant volumes sold into the export market.
Polypropylene (PP) spot prices continued to move higher in the face of rising propylene monomer and tight supplies. Producers are seeking increases as high as $0.12/lb for June, justifying the steep increase on the basis of large gains in June polymer-grade propylene. Consumers say demand remains poor; the weak market could potentially stifle attempts to boost prices. TPE notes that there was very little spot PP available last week, as producers continue to keep operating rates low. There was a surge in spot buying late in May as traders worked to get ahead of proposed increases, but most of the activity TPE saw last week was buyers shopping for small lots and prompt delivery. Spot PP was up about $0.025 from last week and has risen about $0.045 from end-May levels. Homopolymer PP was in the high $0.40s to low $0.50s/lb, with copolymer PP at a $0.02/lb premium. There was limited export interest from Asian traders, with market participants saying activity has died down as prices have moved higher in the United States. Large volumes of PP shipped out from the U.S. in April and May.
Polystyrene (PS) spot prices were higher last week, with general-purpose polystyrene (GPPS) in the high $0.40s to low $0.50s/lb. High-impact PS was in the mid- to high $0.50s/lb, with prices about a penny. Participants told TPE that supplies are tight and spot availability is extremely limited. —[email protected]