The push-and-pull nature of the polyethylene market continued last month, with average selling prices for blow molding grades of high density polyethylene moving up an average of 2 cents per pound.
Producers of those grades had split out an earlier 5 cent increase for May 1 into 3 cents for May and 2 cents for June. All other grades of HDPE, as well as low and linear low density PE, saw the full 5 cents take hold.
One scenario complicating matters in blow molding HDPE is that some buyers claim not to have seen 3 cents' worth of price erosion that was experienced by most of the broader PE market in March and April.
As a result, the recent 2 cent move has left some blow molding HDPE buyers paying 10 cents more per pound than they were at the start of the year, according to buyers contacted recently.
On average, North American PE prices are up 5 cents per pound in 2004, with 8 cents in increases offset by 3 cents of price erosion.
Producers now are working on increases of 4 cents per pound that were to be effective July 1 for all grades of PE.
U.S./Canadian sales of blow molding HDPE grades were up almost 2 percent in the first four months of 2004, when compared with the same period last year, according to the American Plastics Council in Arlington, Va.
Most of that growth came from use of blow molding HDPE in motor oil bottles - up almost 102 percent - and in gas tanks, which was up almost 8 percent. On the down side, use of blow molding HDPE in household chemical bottles fell more than 4 percent in the same comparison.
Through April, blow molding was the largest single end-use market for U.S./Canadian HDPE, accounting for about one-third of total domestic use.
Overall U.S./Canadian HDPE resin sales were up 5 percent through April, fueled by jumps of almost 13 percent in pipe and conduit and 5 percent each in film and exports, according to APC.