Late-year price declines continue in polyethylene, polypropylene and PET bottle resin, according to resin makers and buyers contacted recently.
Prices for high density, low density and linear low density PE dropped a penny per pound in November. PE prices have dropped a total of 11 cents per pound to date in 1998.
However, one industry analyst said inventory levels at PE processors had tightened significantly in December, allowing PE makers some hope that price increases ranging from 3-5 cents slated for Jan. 1 might have some success.
PP prices, which had slowed their descent somewhat from earlier in the year, lost another penny per pound since Oct. 1. Overall, PP prices have dropped an average of 6 cents per pound in 1998.
A Pennsylvania-based PP buyer said market oversupply could cause prices to drop at a rate of a half cent per month into 1999.
Prices for PE and PP could be affected by sizable capacity additions. More than 2 billion pounds of PP capacity are scheduled to be added in North America in 1999, while HDPE/LLDPE expansions in North America between late 1998 and the end of 1999 are expected to total almost 2.5 billion pounds.
The impact of decreased Asian exports can be seen in both PE and PP demand through September, according to resin statistics compiled by the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. in Washington.
LLDPE exports are down more than 18 percent, all but negating a 5.5 percent jump in domestic sales. PP exports are down about 15 percent, reducing 7.2 percent domestic sales growth to a 5.2 percent overall jump.
In PET bottle resin, seasonal slowdowns have knocked 2 cents off prices since Nov. 1. The traditional summer peak is fueled by sales of carbonated beverages.
PET sales have increased 8-10 percent this year, but oversupply and low-priced import resin has kept pricing flat overall.