North American selling prices for polypropylene and solid polystyrene resins have begun 2019 in the same way they ended 2018 — with lower prices.
Regional PP and solid PS prices both fell an average of 2 cents per pound in January, according to market sources contacted by Plastics News. Prices for PP continued a slide, that has seen them tumble a total of 18 cents in November and December.
Like previous price drops, the January PP slide was tied into lower prices for polymer-grade propylene feedstock. Those prices have dropped as propylene supplies have increased. North America now has the lowest PGP prices in the world, according to Scott Newell, a market analyst with Resin Technology Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas.
Recent PP demand also has been hurt by higher prices earlier in 2018, he added. "Inventories are high for both monomer and PP [resin]," Newell explained. "We should start to see these [lower] prices attract [PP] demand back to the U.S. in coming months.
The regional PP market in 2018 also was impacted by increased supplies of PP imported from other countries. Tight North American PP supplies and low prices for imported resin led buyers to foreign suppliers.
North American PP sales through November were down a little more than 1 percent, according to the American Chemistry Council, as a drop of 32 percent in exports sales brought down flat domestic sales. Market watchers said actual PP consumption in the region more likely was up 3-4 percent for the year because of increased amounts of imported PP.
Regional solid PS prices slipped an average of 2 cents per pound in January after sliding 7 cents in December. Those moves were tied to lower demand and to lower prices for benzene feedstock, which is used to make styrene monomer.
North American solid PS sales struggled in 2018, dropping almost 5 percent through November. Exports have provided a bright spot, growing more than 13 percent and reducing the impact of a 5.5 percent drop in domestic sales.