North American prices for PVC and polystyrene resins saw surprising increases in August.
A 2-cent hike for PVC was supply-related, according to sources contacted by Plastics News. Regional PVC prices had been flat in July after declining an average of 2 cents in both May and June. Prices for PVC now are flat so far this year.
"We'll see what the fall brings," one market source said. "Resin has been tighter all year than one would expect." The source added that there's been "a lot of fixing going on" at regional PVC plants this year after those facilities ran so hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.
U.S. housing starts for July came in at a 1.44 million annual rate, according to the Census Bureau. That number is flat with July, but down 13 percent vs. the same month in 2022. Construction activity accounts for about 60 percent of North American PVC demand.
In the second quarter, Westlake Corp.'s Performance & Essential Materials unit — including PVC and polyethylene resins — saw sales dip 32 percent to $2.1 billion, with operating profit down almost 80 percent to $215 million. Sales at the firm's Housing & Infrastructure Products unit — including PVC pipe and other construction products — were down 21 percent to $1.1 billion, with operating profit declining 19 percent to $190 million.
In a news release, President and CEO Albert Chao said that Westlake's second-quarter results "reflected continuing weakness in global manufacturing and industrial activity that began in the second half of 2022."