Polyethylene (PE) prices last week were steady or slightly higher, driven by rising monomers and a “pronounced increase” in exports to China, according to spot-trading platform, The Plastics Exchange (TPE), and its reporting partner The PetroChem Wire. Producers were pushing a $0.05/lb increase in March PE contracts, but market participants have indicated this increase will be delayed until April. Generic-prime railcars of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) blowmolding and injection grades rose a half-cent early last week, with linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) film butene flat, and all trading in the low $0.40s/lb. High-molecular weight (HMW) HDPE film traded in the low-to-mid $0.40s/lb, with low-density polyethylene (LDPE) film in the high $0.40s to low $0.50s/lb. Some discounted railcars of offgrade material were said to be available at the end of the week as some resellers had a few unsold cars to ship before the end of the month. Traders stepped up interest in exports last week, with Chinese demand joining Mexican and South American inquiries.
Polypropylene (PP) prices were slightly higher last week as resin supplies tightened due to an increase in export activity. PP contracts in March increased by about a penny, and producers have reacted to overall weak demand by idling lines and keeping operating rates around 80% during the first quarter, according to TPE. Generic-prime railcars of PP were mostly priced in the mid $0.30s/lb, with the lower end of that range reflecting FOB Houston warehouse prices and the higher end tracking delivered U.S. domestic prices. Copolymer PP has maintained a premium of 1.5 to 2 cents over homopolymer and is trading in the mid-to-high $0.30s/lb. Offgrade railcars were discounted by $0.02 to $0.03/lb. Interest in exports was on the rise, with most of the demand seen from South America and Mexico, particularly for commodity injection resins, as well as raffia/fiber grades.
Polystyrene (PS) spot prices rose last week after an extended drop, with the increase fueled by rising benzene and constricting supplies. Spot general-purpose PS was available in the mid-to-high $0.40s/lb, with off-color material discounted. High-impact PS offers were in the low-to-mid $0.50s/lb range, as prices rose $0.01 to $0.02/lb. —[email protected]