North American polypropylene resin prices reversed course in October like an ice skater with a bad case of vertigo.
Meanwhile, regional PET bottle resin prices for the month notched another minor increase.
Regional PP prices slid 1.5 cents per pound in October, following a similar price decrease in polymer-grade propylene feedstock. PP prices had soared a total of 9.5 cents per pound in August-September as inventories tightened. But those hikes came only after prices had fallen for five straight months — knocking a total of 10 cents off of PP prices — because of a big increase in availability of imported PP.
Taking into account prior increases and decreases, regional PP prices now are up a net of 2 cents per pound since Jan. 1.
Propylene prices are falling as inventories are trending up, according to Scott Newell, a market analyst with Resin Technology Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas. Supply/demand balances have improved for propylene monomer, he added.
Steam crackers and refineries are returning from planned and unplanned outages, Newell said, and a PDH propylene unit operated by Dow Chemical Co. in Texas also is up and running. Additional propylene price cuts could be seen in November and December, he added, which could cause PP resin prices to drop as well.
North American PP sales were up 0.8 percent in the first nine months of 2016, according to the American Chemistry Council. Domestic sales essentially were flat for that period, while export sales surged almost 38 percent.
Although the overall domestic PP market was flat, some end markets did experience sales growth through September. In the sheet market, sales were up almost 5 percent. Domestic sales of PP into injection molded rigid packaging were up more than 2 percent. The injection molded rigid packaging category includes cups, containers, caps and closures.