North American polyethylene resin prices took a surprising upward swing in January, increasing by an average of 3 cents per pound.
Regional PET bottle resin prices also were up 2 cents for the month, according to market sources contacted by Plastics News.
The 3-cent PE hike came after prices had been flat for three consecutive months. Although demand was down in the second half of 2022, PE makers were able to hold prices flat by reducing production and increasing the amount exported from North America. These moves were able to counteract drops in domestic demand caused by an economic slowdown.
Regional PE demand also had been down because processors had built larger-than-normal inventories after the COVID-19 pandemic, sources said. But typical supply-demand factors that lead to price movement weren't evident in January.
"Supply is meeting demand [for PE resin]," one market watcher told PN. "Inventories are low at the producer level because of record exports in December."