Polyethylene (PE) rose slightly last week with subdued spot trading, according to trading platform The Plastics Exchange (TPE) and its reporting partner, Petrochem Wire. Contracts for May remain under discussion, with producers proposing a $0.03/lb increase, but recent weakness in spot and poor domestic demand will likely doom any such effort. Prices were roughly flat in March and April after $0.07/lb increases in January and February. Spot PE ended the week about a penny higher, with high-density polyethylene (HDPE) blowmold and injection grades, as well as linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) film in the low-to-mid $0.40s/lb. Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) film was priced in the high $0.40s to low $0.50s/lb. Exports slowed, with interest limited to a few film grades, marking a shift from April when large quantities of PE were delivered into China. Last week also brought news that LyondellBasell will cease HDPE production at its Chocolate Bayou, TX plant by July 31, citing weak margins and overcapacity. The plant has HDPE nameplate capacity of 480 million lb/year, reflecting roughly 2.5% of U.S. HDPE capacity and about 17% of LyondellBasell’s U.S. HDPE capacity. In addition, DuPont Performance Elastomers said it plans to close its high-performance elastomers plant in Beaumont, TX by the end of June due to declining demand.
Polypropylene (PP) spot prices rose last week with weak spot trading as market participants hesitated to take positions so early in the month. TPE reports that several producers have proposed a $0.03/lb increase for May contracts, but participants feel the increase will be lower, and more in line with gains in May polymer-grade propylene. Generic-prime railcars of homopolymer PP prices were in the high $0.30s/lb to low $0.40s/lb. The lower end of that range reflects domestic deals, with the higher end reflecting offers for bagged material for export. Copolymer PP remained at about a 1.5-cent premium. Export inquiries continue, particularly for raffia grade to Asia, but overall export activity has been impacted by a backlog at bagging facilities.
Polystyrene (PS) spot prices were roughly unchanged last week, but traders said spot availability was extremely limited with few spot deals concluded. General-purpose PS prices remained in the high $0.40s/lb to low $0.50s/lb. High-impact PS was in the low-to-mid $0.50s/lb. —[email protected]