Polyethylene (PE) prices were higher last week, as producers raised offers ahead of a renewed effort to increase prices, while buyers raised bids amid tighter supply. Spot-trading platform The Plastics Exchange (TPE) and its reporting partner the PetroChem Wire said spot domestic prices added about $0.01/lb. Export prices jumped $0.02-$0.03/lb, driven by active Chinese buying, which was prompted in part by the country’s recent government tax incentives. Producers were seeking to implement a $0.05/lb increase in March, after a $0.07/lb increase was installed in January and February. TPE says market participants eventually agreed to keep prices flat, but producers are now seeking to implement the $0.05/lb increase in April. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) blowmolding grades were steady in the low $0.40s/lb, with HDPE injection and linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) film butene prices about a half-cent higher in the low-to-mid $0.40s/lb. Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) clarity film was also about a half-cent higher in the high $0.40s to low $0.50s/lb. Spot prices finished the month about 1.5 cents below end of February levels. In the export market, although overall demand from Mexico and South America continues to be below 2008’s pace, aggressive Chinese buying has lifted all export sales prices, which are now approaching domestic spot prices.
Polypropylene (PP) prices jumped about $0.02/lb this week amid a bump in domestic and export demand and a decline in supplies. TPE reports that few fresh generic-prime cars were shown to the market, and any unsold trader-owned material in Houston warehouses was picked up by exporters. Contract prices were about a penny higher in March, and April discussions continue, with producers seeking a $0.03/lb increase as market participants await a settlement for polymer-grade propylene. In “swift” trading activity, most of the spot transactions were consummated in the mid-to-high $0.30s/lb for homopolymer and the high $0.30s to low $0.40s/lb for copolymer. PP export demand helped fuel the increase in spot prices, with light-normal flow to Latin America and Mexico, but a surge to China.
Polystyrene (PS) spot prices were about $0.02/lb higher this week as producers raised spot offers ahead of April price increases. Producers, pressured by rising benzene costs, issued a $0.02/lb increase for April 1, with an additional $0.04/lb increase for April 15. Amidst limited railcars, general-purpose PS was offered in the high $0.40s/lb, with high-impact PS available in the low-to-mid $0.50s/lb range. —[email protected]