Some PE grades see 4-cent hike; PVC prices increase, but PS down

By Frank Esposito
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: March 15, 2013 2:27 pm ET
Updated: March 15, 2013 3:22 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Materials, Resin Pricing, Materials Suppliers

AKRON, OHIO -- February was a rocky month for North American commodity resin prices, with PVC prices up, polystyrene prices down and a price increase hitting some grades of polyethylene.

The PE increase is a 4-cent move on non-film grades — including injection molding, blow molding and rotomolding — of high density PE and rotomolding grades of linear low density PE.

Industry sources said the split occurred when makers of those grades pushed ahead with the increase after Nova Chemicals Corp. said in mid-February that a broader increase for all grades of PE had not been successful.

"The other producers basically said they were going to raise prices on grades not made by Nova," said Mike Burns, a PE market analyst with Resin Technology Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas.

Producers' need for margin improvement played a role in the increase, since there were no real inventory or production drivers for it, Burns added.

Sources said the 4-cent hike has a good chance of being implemented on other grades of HDPE, LDPE and LLDPE during March. The March PE market also could be affected by the planned startup of 230 million pounds of new ethylene feedstock capacity at Westlake Chemical Corp.'s plant in Lake Charles, La.

The 4-cent move comes on the heels of a 5-cent increase that hit the market in January. By comparison, PE prices fell a net of 5 cents per pound for full-year 2012.

HDPE also had a solid year in 2012 with U.S./Canadian sales growth of 2.2 percent, according to the American Chemistry Council in Washington. LDPE posted a growth rate of less than 1 percent, while LLDPE sales fell almost 2 percent.

Regional prices for suspension PVC ticked up an average of 3 cents per pound in February, as processors built inventories in advance of construction season. U.S. housing starts grew more than 30 percent in 2012, according to the Washington-based National Association of Home Builders, and are expected to enjoy healthy growth this year as well.

One regional resin buyer said that tight resin supplies and high export pricing helped the 3-cent move take hold. A 5-cent hike nominated for March may end up being split between March and April, he added.

The February increase is the first to hit the PVC market this year and the first price movement since prices fell 1 cent per pound in December. Even with that drop, regional PVC prices increased by a net of 2 cents per pound during 2012.

Sources said 2013 PVC demand so far seems to be slightly ahead of 2012's pace. PVC had the best performance of any commodity resin in the North American market during 2012, posting growth of almost 6 percent.

Regional PS prices slipped by an average of 2 cents per pound in Februrary. The drop occurred amid a backdrop of soft demand and lower prices for benzene feedstock, which is used to make styrene monomer.

North American benzene prices hit a record high of $5.16 per gallon in January but then slipped to $4.80 in Feburary — a drop of almost 7 percent. Benzene prices for March already have settled at $4.69 — a drop of more than 2 percent vs. January — leading some buyers to expect PS pricing to be flat or slightly down in March.

PS prices in the region had been flat since seeing a 3-cent increase in late 2012. Prices for the material saw a net gain of 10 cents for full-year 2012.

PS sales in North America — including Mexico — declined by 3.5 percent during 2012. That dip included a 1 percent drop in PS sold into food packaging/food service, the end market that counted for almost 60 percent of North American PS sales last year.


Comments

Some PE grades see 4-cent hike; PVC prices increase, but PS down

By Frank Esposito
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: March 15, 2013 2:27 pm ET
Updated: March 15, 2013 3:22 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

'Thermoforming has nearly limitless possibilities'

April 18, 2014 12:54 pm ET

Julie McAlindon of PolyOne Corp. speaks about the future of thermoforming and the integration of Spartech Corp.    More

Image

Ascend targets nylon for auto applications, opening propylene monomer unit in Texas

April 18, 2014 10:57 am ET

Materials firm Ascend Performance Materials Inc. is in full operation at its new nylon 6/6 compounding line in Florida and will break ground by the...    More

Dutch company launching $100 million PP, PE recycling plant

April 18, 2014 10:42 am ET

Quality Circular Polymers is building a new plastics recycling operation in Geleen, the Netherlands' Chemelot industrial chemical site, with a...    More

Lumena suspends trading, delays report amid claims of 'misrepresenting' financials

April 18, 2014 10:19 am ET

China Lumena New Materials Corp., which says it has the world's largest manufacturing capacity for polyphenylene sulfide resin, has suspended its...    More

PolyQuest spins off FiberQuest unit

April 18, 2014 10:14 am ET

PolyQuest Inc. has spun off its FiberQuest unit — which distributes polyester staple fibers and cotton — as a separate company.    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report provides analysis and discussions of economic and political conditions, market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies. In addition, there are reviews of 25 leading thermoformers in the packaging segment, assessing their growth initiatives and performance metrics over 10 years.

Learn more

Automotive Market Review and Outlook 2014 The Americas

This 75-page report features in-depth analysis of the automotive industry for the Americas. It includes discussions of market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting production and threats as well as design strategies being implemented by the major automakers. Detailed charts and data tables outline North American automotive production over the last five years.

Learn more

Plastics Building & Construction Market Review and Outlook 2014 with MS Excel chart data

This report provides in-depth analysis of the plastic building and construction market for North America, including discussions of trends, opportunities, threats and the latest developments in construction trends that impact plastics processors.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

May 6, 2014 - May 8, 2014Plastics in Medical Devices 2014

May 12, 2014 - May 12, 2014Plastics News Brazil Pharma Summit

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

February 3, 2015 - February 7, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events