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TPE resin pricing: PE falls in spite of Gustav fears; PP and PS drop as well

Polyethylene (PE) prices continued to fall helping to attract fresh domestic demand, according to spot-trading platform The Plastics Exchange (TPE; http://www.theplasticsexchange.com) and its partner The PetroChem Wire (http://www.petrochemwire.com). The market did pause as Hurricane Gustav threatened the heart of the U.S. Gulf petrochemical industry, but TPE reports that even with a number of facilities in Louisiana remaining closed, prices still dropped.

). The market did pause as Hurricane Gustav threatened the heart of the U.S. Gulf petrochemical industry, but TPE reports that even with a number of facilities in Louisiana remaining closed, prices still dropped. The falling prices upstream have essentially disabled producers attempts at increases, nullifying an August $0.08/lb price increase and rendering the $0.05/lb September nomination moot, according to TPE. In the face of lower energy and feedstock prices, processors are seeking lower PE prices in September, with drops as large as $0.07/lb possible. TPE and PetroChem wire report that if PE contract prices fell in September, it would be the first contract decrease of 2008. In the spot market, generic-prime railcars for most commodity grade resins have been made available, with high-density film and injection grades offered in the low $0.80’s/lb, and blowmolding slightly lower. Good offgrade railcars of these material were seen in the higher $0.70’s/lb.

The spot polypropylene (PP) market continued to be pressured, with suppliers dropping offers and competing for those few buy orders shown to the market, according to TPE. There is some speculation that the lack of buying activity reflects demand destruction due to record high prices seen through August. In addition, processors have maintained inventory discipline, buying railcars on an as-needed basis, but not any extra. TPE and PetroChem Wire report that PP contract pricing has closely tracked, monomer costs this year, rising $0.10/lb in July and rolling over in August. September PP contracts have yet to settle, and participants said that a market-wide settlement for polymer-grade propylene monomer will be needed before September PP contracts are finalized. In the spot markets, domestic generic-price homopolymer railcars slid about $0.05/lb, into the low $0.80’s /lb. Generic prime copolymer has largely seen its premium to homopolymer collapse, trading down into the low $0.80’s/lb. Domestic widespec material was offered in the higher $0.70’s/lb, with some traders reporting even lower prices.

Spot polystyrene (PS) supplies remained tight, but TPE reports some spot transactions were concluded and prices were slightly lower. General purpose deals were seen around $0.93/lb at midweek, with prices down about a penny. HIPS spot transactions were around $1.00/lb, with prices there also around a penny lower.

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