A short, sharp rebound in the first quarter called an abrupt halt to the long slide in commodity resin prices.

A short, sharp rebound in the first quarter called an abrupt halt to the long slide in commodity resin prices. However, there were signs last month that some hikes would be cut back or delayed indefinitely. With resin demand still weak, it all seemed to hinge on where monomer/feedstock prices were going.

 

PE HIKE ON HOLD?

Polyethylene prices held steady through early March, following implementation of a 7¢/lb increase. A 5¢ hike originally scheduled for February was delayed to March 1 and then to April for certain markets, according to industry observers. Meanwhile, the London Metal Exchange (LME) North American short-term futures contract in blown-film butene LLDPE for April rose to 35¢/lb from 34¢ in March.

Contributing factors: At press time, it was unclear if any or all of the 5¢ increase would be implemented. Resin capacity utilization is said to be below 70%, but that’s not the whole story. “Resin supply is reasonably tight, particularly for film grades, due to capacity cutbacks,” says Mark Quiner, editor at PetroChem Wire, Houston.

Ethylene monomer contract prices for February settled up 0.5¢/lb at 32¢/lb. But Quiner says monomer spot prices are a better indicator of the direction of PE price movement. He notes that spot ethylene prices rose 6¢ through February, peaking at 33.25¢/lb, as a result of planned and unplanned cracker shutdowns and logistical constraints. However, spot ethylene prices fell back sharply to 26.25¢ on March 10 as crackers restarted.

The very next day, spot ethylene dropped to 25¢/lb with futures trading at 21.5¢, according to Mike Burns, global business director for PE at resin purchasing consultant Resin Technology, Inc. (RTI) in Fort Worth, Texas. “We tell our clients that ethylene prices below 27¢/lb will not result in PE prices moving upwards.” Burns says North American PE prices are now competitive globally and he expects the 7¢/lb increase will stay in place, because resin suppliers need it to retain profitability. He sees the 5¢ increase as purely feedstock driven and unlikely to be implemented if ethylene prices continue to fall.

 

PP PRICES UP

Polypropylene prices generally moved up 6¢/lb in February, following a 2¢ increase in the previous month. A new price hike of 5¢ to 6¢ for March 1 also emerged. LME’s North American short-term futures contract in g-p injection-grade homopolymer in April dropped to 31¢/lb after rising to 33¢ in March.

Contributing factors: PP resin tabs followed the movement of propylene monomer. Propylene contracts moved up 6¢ to 28¢/lb in February, after January’s 2¢ rise, which was spurred by short supplies, owing to temporary cracker shutdowns and lower supplies from refineries. Quiner at PetroChem Wire says preliminary settlements for March monomer contracts indicated a 1¢ increase to 29¢/lb.

Scott Newell, RTI’s director of client services for PP, does not see any chance of another PP price hike. “Secondary resin markets have loosened up and prices are coming down. While the second quarter might see some increase in demand over February’s all-time low, it is still likely to show declines in PP consumption, except perhaps in food and beverage packaging.”

 

PET PRICES UP, TOO

PET prices moved up 4¢/lb in February, after a precipitous drop in the fourth quarter and January. A 5¢/lb price hike for March 1 was still on the table.

Contributing factors: PET tabs had followed declining prices of paraxylene and ethylene glycol feedstocks, but suppliers say there was an “overcorrection” of about 4¢/lb. Says a source at one major PET maker, “Starting from last July, feedstock prices dropped a total of 32¢/lb while PET prices fell 36¢/lb.”

Implementation of the March price hike was uncertain at press time. A seasonal upswing for PET typically starts in March, in anticipation of strong second-quarter beverage demand. But PET sales in February and March rose only marginally—about 2% to 3%. “We did not see the normal upswing this March, but there is an uptick in single-serve beverage sales at convenient stores as gas prices have dropped,” says one resin supplier.

PET plant utilization reportedly is in the low 70% range. The only scheduled new capacity—from Indorama’s Alpha-Pet subsidiary in Decatur, Ala.—will equal the permanent shutdowns of PET capacity by Invista and Wellman that have already taken place. However, there are industry reports that a new 800- to 900-million-lb production line at StarPet in North Carolina will start up as soon as June, rather than by the year’s end as originally planned.

 

PVC HIKES SPLIT

PVC resin producers ended up splitting the February 5¢/lb increase after Georgia Gulf announced that it was delaying 2¢ of that hike to March 1. As of mid-March, Georgia Gulf and OxyChem had announced a further 3¢ increase for April 1.

Contributing factors: Attempting a price increase in the face of very weak demand, at a time when ethylene monomer prices are expected to soften, sounds like a long shot. Some monomer capacity that had been shut down was scheduled to come back up in March, so ethylene pricing is expected to be weak. Contract ethylene settled at 32¢/lb in February, while spot prices in mid-March were at 31¢. According to the American Plastics Council, resin producer operating rates in January were only 64%.

 

PS HIKE COULD SHRINK

Polystyrene resin producers moved their 5¢/lb price increase from Feb. 15 to March 1. But on March 1, Total cut its hike to 3¢ with a TVA for the rest, so others will probably have to follow suit.

Contributing factors: Benzene feedstock prices are soft. Contract benzene jumped from $1.01/gal in January to $1.35 in February (the ostensible reason for the 5¢ hike in PS), but benzene fell back 6¢ to $1.29 in March. Spot benzene was trading even lower in mid-March at $1.18 to $1.19/gal, adding pressure to shrink the PS increase. Resin demand was steady in the first quarter, with foodservice markets so-so and appliances and electronics very weak. 

 

Market Prices Effective Mid-Mar A

 
 
 RESIN GRADEb¢/LB¢/CU INc

 ABS 
  

  
 
 MED IMPACT   90 - 110     340 - 412    
 HI IMPACT   95 - 130     359 - 491    
 X-HI IMPACT   110 - 150     415 - 567    
 HI HEAT   90 - 125     340 - 472    
 PIPE   85 - 95     321 - 359    
 SHEET   90 - 105     340 - 397    
 TRANSPARENT   134 - 205     506 - 774    
 FITTINGS   94 - 115     355 - 434    
 PLATING   165     623    
 FLAME RET   120 - 140     453 - 529    
 STRUCT FM   92 - 102     347 - 385    
 10% GLASS   134 - 145     506 - 548    
 30% GLASS   129 - 141     487    
 ABS/PC ALLOY   154 - 185     532 - 699    
 ABS/PVC ALLOY   139 - 144     525 - 544    
 ABS/NYLON ALLOY   199 - 355     752 - 1341    

 ACETAL 

  

  
 
 HOMOPOL   151 - 172     7.7 - 8.7    
 20% GLASS   171 - 235     8.7 - 11.9    
 COPOLYMER   144 - 160     7.3 - 8.1    
 25% GLASS   171 - 245     8.7 - 12.4    

 ACRYLIC 

  

  
 
 G-P   117     5.0    
 IMPACT   192     8.2    

 ACRYLONITRILE COPOL 

  

  
 
 EXTRUSION   101 - 116     4.0 - 4.6    
 INJECTION   120 - 135     4.8 - 5.4    

 ALKYD 

65 - 74   

4.9 - 5.5   
 

 CELLULOSICS 

  

  
 
 ACETATE   187     8.6    
 CAB   189     8.2    
 CAP   189     8.2    

 DAP (G-P) 

251 - 497   

16.7 - 34.7   
 

 EPOXY 

  

  
 
 G-P RESIN   116 - 126     NAd    
 COMPOUNDS          
 C/B/Te   123 - 166     9.4 - 12.9    
 R/C/Df   208 - 271     15.3 - 20.1    
 SEMICONDUCTOR          
 NOVOLAC   193 - 228     13.1 - 15.9    
 ANHYDRIDE   188 - 268     13.9 - 19.2    

 EVA 

  

  
 
 INJECTION   69 - 71     2.3 - 2.4    
 FILM EXTRU   67 - 69     2.3    

 EVOH 

330   

15   
 

 FLUORO-POLYMER 

  

  
 
 CTFE   5000 - 6000     385 - 462    
 ECTFE   1200 - 1680     90.7 - 120    
 ETFE   1205 - 1730     80.7 - 115.8    
 FEP   971 - 1470     74.8 - 113.2    
 PFA   1550 - 2520     120 - 195    
 PTFE   500 - 950     33.5 - 63.6    
 PVDF   750 - 1200     48 - 76.9    

 IONOMER 

  

  
 
 PACKAGING   127 - 166     4.3 - 6.0    
 INDUSTRIAL   150 - 244     5.0 - 8.3    

 LIQUID-CRYSTAL POLYMERS 

  

  
 
 INJECTION MIN FILLED   690 - 1035     44.2 - 72.1    
 GLASS FILLED   695 - 895     40 - 52    
 CARBON FILLED   1700 - 2000     83.2 - 138.6    
 UNFILLED   1000 - 1200     58 - 70    
 EXTRUSION UNFILLED   1200 - 2200     60.5 - 110.9    

 MELAMINE COMPOUND 

90 - 94   

5.5 - 5.6   
 

 MELAMINE/PHENOLIC COMPOUND 

75 - 83   

4.5 - 5.0   
 

 NYLON 

  

  
 
 TYPE 6   139 - 159     5.7 - 6.5    
 MIN FILLED   131 - 144     5.4 - 5.9    
 30% GLASS   148 - 173     6.0 - 7.0    
 TYPE 66   153 - 168     6.3 - 6.9    
 MIN FILLED   151 - 159     6.2 - 6.5    
 30% GLASS   142 - 192     5.8 - 7.9    
 TYPE 69   250 - 276     9.7 - 10.7    
 TYPE 6/10   286 - 313     12.4 - 13.6    
 TYPE 612   400     15.3    
 30% GLASS   309 - 311     14.7    
 40% GLASS   309     14.7    
 TYPE 46   295     12.6    
 TYPE 11   650 - 750     24.3 - 28    
 30% GLASS   NAd - NAd     NAd - NAd    
 40% GLASS   NAd - NAd     NAd - NAd    
 TYPE 12   318 - 341     12.1 - 13.0    
 30% GLASS   327 - 350     14.7 - 15.8    
 50% GLASS   299 - 340     15.6 - 17.8    
 TRANSPARENT AMORPHOUS   247 - 360     10.3 - 15.0    

 PHENOLIC MOLD COMP 

75   

3.8   
 
 REINFORCED GRADES   105 - 268     6.1 - 16    

 POLYAMIDE-IMIDEg 

  

  
 
 UNFILLED   2750     148.5    
 30% GLASS   2500     135    
 30% CARBON FIB.   3500     185    

 POLYARYLATE 

200 - 280   

8.8 - 12.3   
 

 POLYARYL SULFONE 

440   

21.8   
 

 POLYBUTYLENE 

  

  
 
 G-P   94 - 96     3.1    
 FILM   88 - 91     2.9    
 PIPE          
 COLD WATER   116 - 120     3.9 - 4.0    
 HOT WATER   162 - 166     5.5 - 5.6    

 POLYCARBONATE 

  

  
 
 INJECTION   158 - 173 Prices Went Down 
  7.9    
 20% GLASS   164 - 181 Prices Went Down 
  8.2    
 30% GLASS   165 - 207 Prices Went Down 
  9.3    
 EXTRUSION   133 - 171 Prices Went Down 
  7.7    
 BLOW MOLD   138 - 176 Prices Went Down 
  7.5    
 STRUCT FOAM   137 - 172 Prices Went Down 
  7.8    
 20% GLASS   219 - 243 Prices Went Down 
  11.0    
 FR   153 - 188 Prices Went Down 
  8.5    
 CD   124 - 186 Prices Went Down 
  8.4    

 POLYESTER (TP) PBT TYPE 

  

  
 
 UNFILLED   145 - 150     6.8 - 7.3    
 HI-IMP   165 - 175     7.8 - 8.3    
 30% GLASS, FR   195 - 215     9.2 - 10.1    
 STRUCT FOAM   159 - 165     NAd    

 PET 

  

  
 
 BOTTLE (RAILCAR)   71 - 75 Prices Went Up  
  3.6 - 3.7 Prices Went Up  
 
 MOD PET          
 30% GLASS   132 - 143     7.4    
 55% GLASS   148 - 155     9.8    
 30% GLASS FLAME RET   147 - 157     9.2    
 PETG COPOL   114 - 124     5.2 - 5.6    

 POLYESTER THERMOSET 

  

  
 
 G-P ORTHO   151 - 162     NAd    
 ISOPHTHALIC   175 - 196     NAd    
 BIS-A   210 - 235     NAd    

 PEEK 

4400   

231   
 
 30% GLASS   3300     173    

 POLYETHERIMIDE 

641 - 646   

29.3 - 29.5   
 
 30% GLASS   526 - 531     24.0 - 24.2    

 POLYETHERKETONE (PEK) 

2950   

130.1   
 
 30% GLASS   2600     153    

 POLYETHERSULFONE 

350 - 400   

17.2 - 19.7   
 
 30% GLASS   425 - 525     21 - 25.9    

 POLYETHYLENE (RAILCAR) LDPE 

  

  
 
 G-P MOLDING & EXTRU   50 - 52     1.7    
 INJECTION   52 - 54     1.7 - 1.8    
 LID RESIN   55 - 57     1.8 - 1.9    
 LINER   52 - 54     1.7 - 1.8    
 CLARITY   48 - 50     1.6 - 1.7    
 EXTRU COATG   53 - 55     1.8    
 BLOW MOLD   55 - 57     1.8 - 1.9    

 LLDPE, BUTENE BASED 

  

  
 
 G-P MOLDING   55 - 57     1.8 - 1.9    
 LME 30-DAYj   35 Prices Went Up  
  1.3 Prices Went Up  
 
 FILM   52 - 54     1.7 - 1.8    
 ROTOMOLD   49 - 51     1.6 - 1.7    

 LLDPE, HAO-BASED 

  

  
 
 G-P MOLDING   50 - 52     1.7    
 LID RESIN   60 - 62     1.9    
 LINER FILM   53 - 55     1.8    

 HDPE 

  

  
 
 G-P INJ MOLD   50 - 52     1.7    
 FILM   57 - 59     1.9    
 BLOW MOLD   58 - 60     1.9 - 2.0    

 HMW-HDPE 

  

  
 
 BLOW MOLDING   54 - 56     1.8    
 FILM   55 - 57     1.9    
 PIPE   62 - 64     2.0 - 2.1    

 UHMW-PE 

1.22 - 1.52   

4.1 - 5.1   
 

 PPE/PPO BASED RESIN 

  

  
 
 INJECTION   180     6.8    
 20% GLASSh   283     12.3    
 30% GLASSh   291     13.3    
 EXTRUSIONh   242     9.2    
 STRUCT FM   231     NAd    

 PPS 

  

  
 
 40% GLASS   450 - 520     27.0 - 31.2    
 55% GLASS/MINERAL   345 - 420     22.7 - 27.7    
 65% GLASS/MINERAL   270 - 315     18.9 - 22.1    

 POLYPROPYLENE (RAILCAR) 

  

  
 
 G-P HOMOPOL INJECTION   46 - 48 Prices Went Up  
  1.5 - 1.6 Prices Went Up  
 
 LME 30-DAYj   31.0 Prices Went Down 
  1.1 Prices Went Down 
 
 EXTRUSION FIBER   44 - 46 Prices Went Up  
  1.4 - 1.5 Prices Went Up  
 
 PROFILES   52 - 54 Prices Went Up  
  1.7 Prices Went Up  
 
 RANDOM COPOL          
 BLOW MOLDING   50 - 52 Prices Went Up  
  1.6 - 1.7 Prices Went Up  
 
 FILM   50 - 52 Prices Went Up  
  1.6 - 1.7 Prices Went Up  
 
 INJECTION   49 - 51 Prices Went Up  
  1.6 Prices Went Up  
 
 IMPACT COPOL          
 MED IMP   60 - 62 Prices Went Up  
  1.9 - 2.0 Prices Went Up  
 
 HI IMP   62 - 64 Prices Went Up  
  2.0 - 2.1 Prices Went Up  
 

 POLYSTYRENE (RAILCAR) 

  

  
 
 G-P CRYSTAL   53 - 59     2.0 - 2.2    
 HI HEAT   56 - 61     2.1 - 2.3    
 HIPS   62 - 68     2.3 - 2.6    
 SUPER HI IMP   69 - 79     2.4 - 3.0    
 FR   75 - 80     2.8 - 3.0    
 STRUCT FM (FR)   63 - 65     2.4    

 EPS 

  

  
 
 UNMODIFIED   85 - 88     NAd    
 MODIFIED   86 - 90     NAd    

 POLYSULFONE 

650 - 750   

29 - 33   
 
 10% GLASS 430 20.6   799 - 875     36 - 39    
 30% GLASS 372 20.01   699 - 775     31 - 35    

 POLYURETHANE (TP) 

  

  
 
 ESTER TYPE   185 - 255     8 - 11    
 ETHER TYPE   245 - 295     10.6 - 13    

 PU ISOCYANATES 

  

  
 
 POLYMERIC MDI   125 - 145     NAd    
 80/20 TDI   135 - 145     NAd    

 PVC RESIN (RAILCAR) 

  

  
 
 G-P HOMOPOL   46 - 48 Prices Went Up  
  NAd    
 PIPE   45 Prices Went Up  
  NAd    
 FILM   51 Prices Went Up  
  NAd    
 COPOLYMER FLOORING   71 - 74     NAd    
 DISPERSION HOMOPOLY   81 - 87     NAd    
 COPOLYMER   86 - 90     NAd    
 CPVC PIPE COMPOUND   119     NAd    

 PVDC 

  

  
 
 EXTRUDABLE   162     NAd    

 SILICONES 

  

  
 
 MOLD. COMP.   581 - 640     38.1 - 39.3    
 SPECIALTY GR.   891 - 3148     NAd    
 SILICONE/EPOXY   339 - 343     22.5 - 22.8    

 STYRENEACRYLIC 

108 - 112   

3.7 - 4.0   
 

 SAN (G-P) 

80 - 88   

3.0 - 3.3   
 

 STYRENE MALEIC ANHYDRIDE 

  

  
 
 G-P   110 - 115     4.2 - 4.3    
 HI IMP   130 - 140     4.2 - 4.5    
 FR   175 - 183     6.7 - 7.0    

 TP ELASTOMERS 

  

  
 
 OLEFINIC   70 - 76     2.4    
 POLYAMIDE   300 - 350     10.9 - 12.7    
 POLYESTER   200 - 310     8.8 - 13.6    
 STYRENIC   82 - 237     2.9 - 8.3    

 UREA MOLDING COMPOUND 

  

  
 
 BLACK & BROWN          
 WHITE & IVORY          

 VINYL ESTER 

  

  
 
 COR RES   221 - 245     NAd    
 HEAT & COR RES   246 - 258     NAd    

KEY: Colored areas indicate pricing activity. An arrow () indicates direction of price change. aTruckload, unless otherwise specified. bUnfilled, natural color, unless otherwise specified. cBased on typical or average density. dNot applicable. eNovolac and anhydride grades for coils, bushings, transformers. fNovolac and anhydride grades for resisitors, capacitors, diodes. gIn quantities of 20,000 lb. h19,800-lb load. jLME 30-day futures contract for lots of 54,564 lb..