Solid polystyrene and PVC resins both saw price hikes in North America in March, while regional polypropylene prices took another big tumble.
Meanwhile, prices in the region for polyethylene were flat for the month and PET bottle resin prices slipped by a penny, ending a lengthy streak of increases.
Regional suspension PVC prices moved up an average of 2 cents per pound for March after moving up 3 cents in February. Prior to those increases, PVC prices had been flat in January and down a penny in December.
These February-March increases have taken hold as a result of a stronger export market and because of limited production at some PVC plants in the region, market sources said.
U.S./Canadian PVC sales grew just over 1 percent in January, according to the American Chemistry Council, with export growth of almost 6 percent making up for a decline of almost 1 percent in domestic sales. Two-month PVC sales into its flagship rigid pipe and tubing end market were down almost 3 percent, as winter weather slowed construction activity.
In other major PVC end markets, sales of the material into film and sheet slumped almost 7 percent through February, while PVC sales into extruded windows and doors are off to a scorching start in 2018, surging almost 20 percent.
Regional PS prices moved up an average of 4 cents per pound for March after rising 2 cents in February. The hike surprisingly occurred even though benzene feedstock prices declined slightly. The upward push was a result of production outages down the chain, according to Phil Karig, managing director of the Mathelin Bay Associates consulting firm in St. Louis.
Prices for PS had been flat in January after climbing 5 cents in December, placing the total increase for the last four months at 11 cents.
North American PS sales slumped almost 7 percent in the first two months of 2018. A domestic sales loss of just over 7 percent was softened somewhat by an increase of almost 5 percent in export sales.
One bright spot for regional PS sales in the first two months of the year came in sales to distributors and resellers, which grew just over 6 percent. That category accounted for more than 10 percent of domestic PS sales during that period.