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
Companies & Associations

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

Ford moving forward in carbon fiber for 'high volume' use

April 17, 2015 10:21 am ET

Ford Motor Co. has signed a deal with a carbon-fiber manufacturer to jointly explore “high-volume” automotive uses for the lightweight...    More

Image

Force majeure declared at six European sites since mid-March

April 17, 2015 1:10 pm ET

At least six European resin makers have declared force majeure on polyethylene, polypropylene and related products since mid-March, leading to higher ...    More

Image

Executives step down from Star Thermoplastics

April 17, 2015 12:56 pm ET

Executives Randall Fortin and Larry Johnson no longer are with materials firm Star Thermoplastics Alloys & Rubbers Inc.    More

Image

Zoltek expanding CF capacity in Europe

April 17, 2015 10:12 am ET

Leading carbon fiber group Zoltek Corp. has signed a strategic agreement with the Hungarian government to expand its operation in northern Hungary,...    More

Image

Hanwha Azdel adds capacity in Lynchburg

April 16, 2015 2:01 pm ET

Composite maker Hanwha Azdel Inc. will add space and a new production line at its Lynchburg, Va., production facility, the company announced April 16.    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 15, 2015 - September 17, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events