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TPE Week in Review: PE, PP down, PS flat

Trading volume for polyethylene (PE) was average with weaker prices last week at spot-trading platform, The Plastics Exchange (TPE; www.theplasticsexchange.com). Producers refrained from offering generic prime resin to the domestic market, which helped secure half of the $0.06/lb increase they had nominated for January contracts. In the last three weeks, ethylene prices have fallen dramatically, dropping $0.08/lb from record highs of $0.555/lb. TPE reports that during this past week, Flint Hills Resources declared force majeure, since their Odessa, TX resin plant will be taken offline during much of February for unscheduled maintenance. Even before this announcement, other polyethylene producers have reportedly reduced operating rates, helping keep inventory in check.
Polypropylene (PP) experienced increasing volume and lower prices, with spot demand soft as prices fell $0.01-$0.015/lb. Price increases have been implemented overall, however, with an average increase of $0.005-$0.020/lb for January contracts. Refinery-grade propylene is down to $0.52/lb, falling more than $0.05/lb from record highs.
Fair trading volume and steady prices marked polystyrene (PS) spot trading, with TPE speculating that the consolidation efforts that have been ongoing are taking effect. Offgrade high-impact polystyrene (HIPS) could be bought on the higher side of the mid-$0.70s/lb with quality general-purpose PS and even generic prime, purchased for a couple cents lower.
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