Despite widespread weakness in thermoplastic prices, resin producers are attempting new hikes in PE and engineering resins, including ABS. One thermoset supplier announced a surcharge tied specifically to higher energy and fuel costs.
The 5¢/lb PE price hike that was announced for April 1 appeared to have expired from neglect by August. However, it has suddenly been reborn. Huntsman and Dow reintroduced it last month with an effective date of Oct. 1. At press time, similar actions were under study by other producers.
Contributing factors: Suppliers point to the sharp rise in oil prices and its impact on ethylene monomer. Moreover, softer resin prices in the last few months have eroded at least half of the 8¢/lb accumulated through two previous price hikes this year. All that remains is a net increase of 4¢ for film grades and 3¢ for molding grades.
Industry sources have predicted that ample new PE capacity coming on stream will exert downward pressure on resin prices for the rest of this year and into the next. Says one supplier, “The overhang of new capacity is having a great impact on buyers, who are expecting better price deals.”
Polypropylene resin tabs are weak, with the last price initiative of 3-4¢/lb having fallen by the wayside.
Contributing factors: New resin capacity is putting a heavy lid on prices and could even force them lower. Dow is expected to start up its new 550-million-lb/yr plant in Texas toward the end of the year. Resin tabs are now following the monomer’s price, which is trending downward owing to a glut in supply.
Commodity PVC resins have dropped a penny a month since they peaked in June. Some siding extruders say resin is down 3¢/lb since June, while some makers and users of pipe grade peg the drop at 4¢ over the same time frame, including a 2¢ drop in August alone. On the other hand, users of specialized sheet and bottle grades may have seen no price decrease at all. Prices of commodity grades were expected to drift lower by another penny in September.
Contributing factors: Construction markets slumped, weakening demand for pipe and siding. Even export prices are low. Resin producers cut back production, but some now say they didn’t cut back enough to stiffen prices.
Polystyrene producers and users say prices were flat in mid-September despite indications that styrene monomer prices were headed higher. Monomer producers announced a 2¢ hike for September, but at press time it was too soon to say whether it would take effect.
Contributing factors: Processors say packaging demand is steady and flat. CD jewel-box markets, however, have slowed. And pricing for exports to the Far East is also down.
Price increases of 8¢/lb set for Sept. 15 were announced by Dow Plastics for SAN, ABS, and PC/ABS, along with a 10¢/lb hike for polycarbonate. Note that Dow had announced an 8¢ across-the-board increase on all ABS resins for July 1. But due to “competitive pressure,” the company issued a 5¢ temporary voluntary allowance (TVA) on pipe and fitting grades in mid-July. The latest 8¢/lb increase is across the board, so it effectively still leaves pipe and fitting grades 5¢ behind other ABS resins. At press time, neither GE, Bayer, nor BASF would confirm any price increases on their materials. As for polycarbonate, Dow also appears to be flying solo with its 10¢/lb increase.
At press time, Dow opened another front by announcing a 12¢/lb increase for all Vydyne nylon 66 and 66/6 resins, effective Oct. 15.
Dow said last month that it will impose an energy and fuel surcharge on all shipments of Derakane vinyl esters as of Oct. 15. The surcharge is $100 per truckload and $25 for ltl orders.
BFGoodrich joined other producers of thermoplastic urethanes in raising its prices 5% as of Oct. 15. The company also raised the minimum order quantity from 50 lb to 500 lb.