Regional suspension PVC prices moved down an average of 2 cents in April after increasing 2 cents for March and 3 cents in February. PVC prices had been flat in January, placing regional market prices up a net of 3 cents through the first four months of 2018.
"We'll see what's happening in building and construction to see how May shapes up," a PVC market source told Plastics News. "If volume increases, [PVC resin] prices may hold."
U.S./Canadian PVC sales grew more than 3 percent through March, with export growth of almost 5 percent adding to an increase of more than 2 percent in domestic sales. Three-month PVC sales into its flagship rigid pipe and tubing end market were up 3.5 percent.
In other major PVC end markets, sales into film and sheet slumped almost 6 percent through March, while PVC sales into extruded windows and doors are off to a scorching start in 2018, surging more than 16 percent.
Regional PE prices were flat for the second straight month in April after climbing 4 cents in February. U.S./Canadian PE sales got off to a mixed start through March. Regional sales of high density PE were up more than 3 percent, with linear low density PE sales rising 8 percent. But sales of low density PE had a rough start to the year, slipping almost 5 percent.
For HDPE, domestic sales growth of 4 percent was dampened slightly by export growth of less than 1 percent. Domestic HDPE sales growth in that period was boosted by a gain of more than 17 percent for sales into pipe and conduit, including a gain of almost 30 percent in water pipe.
In LLDPE, exports boomed more than 40 percent in the three months — fueled by new capacity throughout North America — boosting domestic sales that slid almost 1 percent. Domestic LLDPE sales into injection molding grew almost 10 percent in the three-month period.
LDPE's 4 percent domestic sales drop in the first 90 days of 2018 was worsened by a plunge of almost 6 percent in export sales. In spite of the overall sales drop, sales of LDPE into extrusion coating outside of paperboard jumped almost 15 percent for the three months of the year.
Regional PS prices were flat in April after moving up an average of 4 cents per pound in March. North American PS sales slumped more than 8 percent in the first three months of 2018. A domestic sales loss of almost 9 percent was softened somewhat by an increase of 2.5 percent in export sales.
One bright spot for regional PS sales in the first three months of the year came in sales to distributors and resellers, which grew more than 4 percent. That category accounted for 11.5 percent of domestic PS sales during that period.
PET bottle resin prices also were flat in April after declining 1 cent in March. That slight drop ended a remarkable streak of nine consecutive months in which prices had increased, raising prices a total of 13 cents per pound. Demand for PET should be increasing as warmer weather drives demand for bottled water and carbonated soft drinks, two of the material's major end markets.
Plastics News also in April reported prices increases for engineering resins polycarbonate, ABS and nylon that took hold in the first quarter of 2018. Those materials were impacted by solid demand, higher raw material costs and scattered production and supply issues, according to market sources.
Regional PC resin prices increased by an average of 7 cents per pound, while ABS was up 4 cents, nylon 6 was up 6 and nylon 6/6 up 7. Sources also indicated that regional prices for ABS and nylon 6/6 could see additional price increases in the second quarter.