Most North American commodity resin prices rose for the second straight month in July, as the region made adjustments to life during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Improving demand and higher feedstock costs sent North American prices for polyethylene, polypropylene, solid polystyrene and suspension PVC resins up during the month. Regional prices for PET bottle resin remained flat.
Regional prices for all grades of PE jumped 5 cents per pound in July as strong demand combined with lower output at some locations. PE prices in the region had moved up 4 cents per pound in June. North American PE makers now have a 5-cent increase on the table for August.
"There's strong demand in essential applications," PE market analyst Mike Burns said. "Demand in a lot of areas never went away.
"Now there's a surge in nonessentials as demand is picking up," added Burns, who is with Resin Technology Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas. Export markets opened up in June and July, adding additional strength to PE demand, he said.
Market sources said that even with some COVID-19-related slowdowns earlier in the year, the amount of PE sold into film applications in North America is on track to be slightly higher in 2020 than it was in 2019.
North American PE supplies also have been improved by Dow Inc.'s restart of two units that had been down since early May in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two Formosa Plastics Corp. USA PE units in Point Comfort, Texas, remain down for maintenance.