North American PVC resin prices took a surprising 5-cent jump in November, as supply chain issues continued to affect that market.
Regional prices for PVC had been flat in October, after moving up 2 cents in both September and August. Prices for the material now have increased 31.5 cents so far in 2021 and a net of 47 cents since January 2020.
Late-year price increases for PVC are a bit surprising, since the building and construction market — PVC's biggest end use in North America — typically builds inventory early in the year to make sure enough material is on hand for construction projects. Demand then traditionally tapers off in the second half of the year, making it more difficult for PVC makers to raise prices.
Market sources said a major reason for current tight market conditions is the PVC sector's ongoing recovery from Hurricane Ida, which hit the Louisiana coast in late August. Major plants operated by Shintech Inc., Formosa Plastics Corp. USA and Westlake Chemical Corp. all were shut down for periods of time.
A major Shintech PVC unit in Freeport, Texas, also was closed because of a lack of vinyl chloride monomer feedstock from supplier Olin Corp. All of these plants have restarted, but supply issues remain because of lost production time and other logistics issues.
"Demand is still greater than supply," one PVC production executive told Plastics News. "You'd expect demand to be slowing now, but that's not happening. It looks like some buyers are trying to buy ahead."
"The whole supply chain is tight. Every producer is having a small production issue, but that all adds up to a big issue. Stabilizer and other additives also are hard to find," the executive said.
The November increase also surprisingly comes as U.S. housing starts have flattened. Units were at a 1.52 million annual rate in October, according to the Census Bureau, down less than 1 percent vs. September and essentially flat when compared with October 2020.