North American resin markets continued to move in June, with prices for polyethylene and PVC up, while prices for polystyrene were on the decline.
Regional prices for all grades of PE were up an average of 5 cents per pound for the month, according to buyers and market watchers contacted by Plastics News. Makers of high density PE were attempting to add another 2 cents to that total, but that increase had not gone through to most buyers as of June 24.
Although PE supplies have been improving since a February ice storm hit Texas and disrupted much PE output, some supply chain challenges remain. Most recently, LyondellBasell Industries declared force majeure on linear low density PE made in La Porte, Texas.
In a June 17 customer letter obtained by Plastics News, LyondellBasell officials said force majeure was needed because of "an equipment failure beyond our reasonable control" at a reactor in La Porte.
Most regional PE prices had increased 5 cents in May and now are up 38 cents so far in 2021 and 58 cents since January 2020. HDPE prices are up 2 cents less than low and linear low density PE. The June price hike is the seventh consecutive for the PE market.
Market analyst Mike Burns said in an email that without additional disruptions, June PE inventory "should help aid the 90-day recovery." Burns is with Resin Technology Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas.
"There's still some tightness in the market," added David Barry, a market analyst with PetroChem Wire in Houston. "Buyers can't find everything they need, so they're paying what they have to pay."
A PE buyer in the Midwestern U.S. said the string of price increases "is getting pretty ridiculous," especially in light of recent lower prices for ethylene feedstock.
PE makers now are seeking increases of 5 cents per pound effective July 1. In spite of the multiple price hikes, Barry said that "it's dangerous to bet against price increases in this environment."