Price increases for polyethylene resins are wavering in the market, and producers pushed back their effective dates to May. Meanwhile, nylon producers put April price increases into effect, and suppliers of polypropylene announced new price increases - 3 cents per pound - for June.
PE prices previously were pushed back from April 1 to April 15, and dropped from 5 cents per pound to 3 cents for low and linear low density resins, and from 3 cents to 2 cents for high density resins.
The lower increases now are supposed to be effective in May, but many suppliers and buyers who deal in PE are wondering if the price increase will fail entirely.
The lack of firmness for the price increase reflects both a slower pace in demand for resins, which many executives of processors attributed to a slightly slower pace in the North American economy, and to the reluctance, as stated by executives of resin manufacturing companies, for resin suppliers to alienate customers by enforcing increases when demand apparently is diminishing.
Executives of both PE suppliers and processing companies spoke about the markets on the condition they not be identified.
While several processors said orders for finished and semifinished products slowed in March and early April, they said they saw indications that their orders were increasing in late April and may increase further in May.
Should orders rise, suppliers expect to be ready to secure their announced increases.
Suppliers said they are wary of placing a price increase into effect too quickly, to prevent angering customers who are eyeing record profits being reported by chemical companies in the first quarter of this year.
However, several resin suppliers added they believe the current price increase may be the only one they could put into the market this year, so they are reluctant to admit its failure too soon.
Meanwhile, nylon producers - led by Dupont Chemical Co., headquartered in Wilmington, Del. - placed price increases into effect April 1.
The price increases were for both nylon 6 and nylon 6/6 resins, and averaged 12 percent.
Eric Fyrwald, business manager for nylons for Dupont, said in an April 26 telephone interview that price increases for nylon were based on higher costs of raw materials, especially cyclohexene and butadiene.
Beyond the price increases for basic resins, Dupont boosted surcharges by 1-2 percent for mixed pallets of resins and less-than-truckload amounts of resins to recoup its increased costs for shipping those products.
While Fyrwald noted that there are several projects under way that are expected to increase production capacity for nylon, he said the supplies of feedstocks remain tight, and feedstocks remain the controlling pricing factor.
As of April 28, two PP suppliers - Fina Oil & Chemical Co. of Dallas and Epsilon Products Co. of Marcus Hook, Pa. - announced 3 cent-per-pound price increases that will be effective June 1.
Other PP suppliers said April 28 they were studying Fina's and Epsilon's action before deciding whether to make similar announcements.