Demand for high-volume, thermoplastic resins has remained strong, causing producers to remain confident that their announced price increases will be effective in the coming weeks. PVC producers, fresh on the heels of a successful 2 cent-per-pound price increase in June, announced further increases for July and August.
Meanwhile, polyethylene and polypropylene producers said last week they expect their pending increases to be effective, and polystyrene makers added 2 cents per pound to their prices.
PE makers seek a 5 cent-per-pound increase on all of their products, while PP makers want another 3 cents. Both were an-nounced for July 1.
PS producers, led by Chevron Chemical Co. in mid-June, cut their increase from 4 cents per pound to 2 cents. That increase took effect June 1, and buyers said last week they are seeing the increases in the market.
PVC buyers also said last week they were being billed for the 2 cent-per-pound increase that went into effect June 1.
Separately, PVC makers announced 2 cent-per-pound in-creases for July 1 and Aug. 1. Producers said demand has remained strong from pipe and siding makers, a manifestation of the strong U.S. housing market.
One executive of a PVC producing company said orders softened in the first two weeks of June, but surged in the last two weeks of that month.
He noted that his orders for June were off by about 2 percent from a year ago, but he expected orders in July to be up 8 percent or more compared to last year.
``Demand in all sectors is running strong,'' he said.
Executives of other PVC suppliers agreed, saying their companies are producing resins at high capacity utilization rates, but not so fast that they cannot keep up.
``Our customers - the pipe guys - are right where they want to be with their [finished product] inventory levels,'' another PVC supplier said.
``They have enough inventory to satisfy their customers, and enough demand to keep us going strong,'' he said.
Several executives said they believe the economy will continue at its current pace, keeping demand hardy but not too robust, through the traditional year-end drop in October.
For PE, the July 1 increase is the fourth producers proposed this year. Prices for low density and linear low density PE increased by 10 cents per pound, based on two 5 cent-per-pound increases in April and May.
Prices for high density PE increased 3 cents in April and 3 cents in May. A 4 cent-per-pound increase that was to be effective June 1 is still on the table.
Producers said last week that the last HDPE increase has caused some confusion in the market.
Demand continues to be strong for PE, keeping inventories low while suppliers produce resin as fast as they can.
In addition, the strong demand has caused intermittent shortages for several grades, especially injection molding and high-molecular-weight grades of HDPE.
According to one executive, the rate of production is giving producing companies indigestion.
``Everyone is having burps in production, and other minor difficulties,'' he said.
Another executive said a slack period of demand would be a blessing.
``It would be nice to have a couple of quiet months, so we could get our production and inventories back in line, and focus on customer service again.''