Average North American selling prices for linear low density polyethylene resin fell 3 cents per pound in May, while prices for high and low density PE were flat.
The 3-cent LLDPE decline came after prices had been flat the previous two months. Prior to that, prices had climbed 4 cents in February. Sources contacted by Plastics News said that increased imports of finished LLDPE bags may have had a short-term impact on domestic resin demand, driving prices down.
Sources added that supplies of HDPE were tight in May, and that supplies of LDPE were snug as well, even though prices for those materials were unchanged for the third straight month.
U.S./Canadian PE sales were mostly positive through April, as the impact of new production capacity throughout North America began to be seen. Regional sales of HDPE surged up 7.5 percent, according to the American Chemistry Council, with LLDPE sales soaring almost 12 percent. But sales of LDPE have struggled, slipping almost 2 percent.
For HDPE, domestic sales growth of almost 7 percent was augmented by export growth of almost 10 percent. Domestic HDPE sales growth in that period was boosted by a gain of almost 18 percent for sales into pipe and conduit, including a gain of almost 26 percent in water pipe.
In LLDPE, exports boomed more than 45 percent in the four-month period, boosting domestic sales that grew almost 3 percent. Domestic LLDPE sales into injection molding grew more than 8 percent in the three-month period.
LDPE's 1 percent domestic sales drop in early 2018 was worsened by a plunge of 3 percent in export sales. In spite of the overall sales decline, sales of LDPE into extrusion coating outside of paperboard jumped more than 13 percent for the four months.