North American commodity resin prices weakened as 2016 drew to a close, with prices for several materials falling in November.
Price drops for polyethylene, polypropylene, solid polystyrene and suspension PVC were tied into changes in demand and feedstock costs. Prices dropped even as regional oil prices jumped from $47 per barrel in early November to $51 by the end of the month. Oil prices typically affect commodity resins on a macro level.
A 3-cent drop on all grades of high, low and linear low density PE was tied to lower prices for ethylene feedstock. The drop comes after prices were flat in October and in five of the previous six months overall.
The only change in that six-month period took place when prices jumped an average of 5 cents per pound in September. Sources attributed that move to an inventory correction connected to several maintenance turnarounds and unplanned outages.
U.S./Canadian PE demand growth was mixed in the first 10 months of 2016, according to the American Chemistry Council. Regional sales of HDPE were up almost 2 percent, while sales of LLDPE fell 0.5 percent and those of LDPE declined almost 3 percent.
Through October, the top domestic growth market for HDPE was blow molded household chemical bottles, where sales were up almost 9 percent to just over 1 billion pounds. For LDPE, non-food packaging film led the way in that 10-month period, growing almost 5 percent to more than 590 million pounds.
The top domestic growth markets for LLDPE for the 10 months were food packaging film, up 3 percent to almost 1.6 billion pounds, and shrink/stretch film, also up 3 percent to almost 1.4 billion pounds.
Regional PP prices took the biggest slide in November, declining by an average of 6 cents per pound. Prices for the material settled downward for the second straight month after falling 1.5 cents per pound in October. Prices continue to fall as inventories of propylene monomer feedstock grow, sources said.
Prior to these two price drops, regional PP prices had soared a total of 9.5 cents per pound in August-September as inventories tightened.