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, Materials Suppliers, Resin Pricing

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

Prices trending up for some recycled resins

July 24, 2014 1:27 pm ET

Plastics News is correcting prices for recycled grades of several commodity resins on this week's resin pricing chart.    More

Meredian merging with Danimer Scientific

July 24, 2014 1:59 pm ET

Bioplastics maker Meredian Inc. is merging with its sister firm, Danimer Scientific LLC.    More

Image

US Bioplastics receives funding to bring Gatoresin to the market

July 24, 2014 1:44 pm ET

Materials maker U.S. Bioplastics is hoping its Gatoresin product will take a bite out of the bioplastics market, thanks to funding from a state...    More

Image

BASF posts growth in second quarter

July 24, 2014 11:08 am ET

German chemical giant, BASF SE, has announced a 1 percent growth in sales for the second quarter of 2014 compared to the same period in...    More

Image

Bayer PC used for lightweight, durable luggage collection

July 24, 2014 10:52 am ET

Bayer MaterialScience has partnered with U.S.-based travel goods manufacturer Andiamo Luggage LLC to create a special plastic for suitcases that is sc...    More

Market Reports

Injection Molders Market Report & Ranking 2014

This special package contains our 132-page 2014 Market Report on the Injection Molding segment and our exclusive 2014 RANKINGS database of 500+ Injection Molders for a discounted package price.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Market Review & Outlook 2014

This special report from Plastics News examines the North American plastics recycling industry and provides insight into indicators that impact market viability, including Resin pricing trends for virgin and recycled market material and historical Resin production trends for post- consumer and industrial waste.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

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

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events