Commodity resin prices are moving upward, slowly and mainly in small steps, owing to market resistance to the much larger increases announced by resin suppliers.

Commodity resin prices are moving upward, slowly and mainly in small steps, owing to market resistance to the much larger increases announced by resin suppliers. However, monomer prices may resume their upward march after a brief pause, which will push resin prices up, too. The PET pricing outlook for the first quarter is fairly quiet.

 

PE Prices Up

Polyethylene prices were on the way up in the first month of the new year as suppliers aimed to implement 6¢/lb increases. Meanwhile, The London Metal Exchange (LME) short-term North American futures contract for February in blown film LLDPE was 64.7¢/lb, up from January’s 62.6¢.

Contributing factors: Feedstock prices are driving the global plastics market, explains Mike Burns, global business director for polyethylene at resin purchasing consultant Resin Technology, Inc. (RTI) of Fort Worth, Texas. The U.S., which relies on natural gas for PE production, continues to be the lowest-cost producer, while resin makers in all other regions are paying the higher crude-oil prices.

Consequently, export demand remains high and is likely to continue as long as crude-oil prices remain high. Domestic demand showed an uptick in December as some processors opted to stock up before the new price hike went into place, according to RTI’s Burns. But other processors followed the more conventional year-end approach of running down their inventories, thus facing the new year with a need to restock at higher prices.

Meanwhile, ethylene monomer contract prices in December remained at November’s level of 61.5¢/lb, but bids on January contracts were 5¢ to 7¢ higher, driven by supply tightness caused by planned and unplanned outages. Ethylene’s precursor ethane is now selling at $1.15/gal, up from 60¢/gal a year ago.

 

PP Moves Just A Little

Polypropylene prices were expected to move up only 0.5 to 1¢/lb last month, although suppliers had issued price increases of 3¢ to 4¢ for Jan. 1 in addition to the delayed 6¢ hike that was slated for December but pushed back to January. Even so, LyondellBasell notified customers of still another increase, of 2¢/lb effective Feb.1. LME’s North American short-term futures contract for g-p injection-grade homopolymer in February sold at 67.8¢/lb, up from January’s 65.5¢.

Contributing factors: PP resin suppliers are unlikely to get the bulk of their increases, which they deemed necessary to recoup increases in monomer costs. December monomer contract prices moved up only 0.5¢ to 62¢/lb, despite producers’ initial attempts at hikes from 3¢ to 7¢. This was reportedly the cause of the December 6¢ PP resin increase being held until January. But January monomer contract bids included increases of 3¢ to 4¢/lb, prompting PP suppliers to issue resin price hikes of the same size for January.

Industry analysts do not expect the market to support these increases. “January propylene contracts could settle up by another 0.5¢/lb at most. Polypropylene suppliers, in turn, are likely to increase prices by 0.5¢ to 1¢/lb,” says Scott Newell, director of client services for PP at RTI. Adds Newell, “The polypropylene market cannot support any more increases. The real question, which resin suppliers will now test, is where is the real demand—both domestic and export?” Exports, he says amounted to more than 1 billion lb in 2007.

Newell and other industry sources note that the high PP prices have already dampened exports, while domestic demand in December was also the slowest of the year. This led to PP operating rates falling to the 84% to 86% range.

 

PVC: 2 + 2 Hikes

PVC resin producers posted 2¢ higher prices for Jan. 1 and 2¢ more on Feb. 1. Some buyers still haven’t settled the last hike in November, but most accepted a 4¢/lb increase, including indexed buyers, who normally pay based on a published market index that was up only 3¢/lb.

Contributing factors: In a very slow construction market, these hikes are all feedstock-driven. Ethylene feedstock was tight in the fourth quarter, due to plant turnarounds and outages. Ethylene contracts were expected to go up 2¢/lb.

 

PS Hike Coming Due

When Dow and Total both announced 4¢/lb polystyrene increases for Feb. 1, Chevron and Ineos/Nova, which had earlier announced 4¢ increases for Jan. 1, moved their increases to Feb. 1 also.

Contributing factors: PS demand saw a slight pop in mid-January, possibly helped by higher prices for competing polyolefins or by hedging against announced increases. The custom sheet market was strengthening. Styrene monomer was steady, though benzene, at $3.45/gal, was up from December.

 

PET Flat For Now

Last year, PET prices moved up 12¢ to 14¢/lb. Although they are not likely to drop, they are also unlikely to rise much further, except possibly for an increase at the end of the first quarter, due to a typical cyclical uptick in demand.

Contributing factors: Last year’s price hikes brought little, if any, gain in profit margins for resin suppliers, according to Mike Dewsbury, global business director for PET at RTI. These increases were driven by record-high costs of feedstocks, particularly paraxylene, driven by high oil prices, as well as ethylene glycol, which suffered a global shortage due to a SABIC plant explosion that sidelined 7% of global production. The price of ethylene glycol was expected to drop with the restart of SABIC’s plant, but it could be offset by high paraxylene prices if crude oil stays around $90/barrel.

Although domestic PET growth in 2007 was projected at 7%, some industry sources think it was actually somewhat lower. The growth rate for this year is similarly projected to fall under 7%. A key factor is said to be lightweighting, particularly of water bottles, which are dropping from 20 g to 12 g. This trend is projected to continue in beverage bottles and other PET packaging. Says RTI’s Dewsbury, “While this reduces PET demand, in the long term it is favorable for PET as it will continue to improve its cost-effectiveness in packaging.”

Some 600 million lb of new PET capacity is due this year. Eastman is shutting down an old plant but also debottlenecking a newer one, for a net increase of 300 million lb. M&G is bringing on 300 million lb through debottlenecking its Texas and Mexico plants. Both companies said their new capacity would come on stream in the first half of the year. If that doesn’t occur until the second quarter, RTI’s Dewsbury foresees that a tighter PET market could develop beforehand.

 

Nova Plans PE Expansions

Nova Chemicals Corp., Pittsburgh, plans a series of polyethylene plant modernization and expansion projects in the Sarnia, Ont., area. The projects will add a total of up to 250 million lb of LDPE, LLDPE, and HDPE capacity in stages over the next two years.

 

Chemtura Adds Urethane Surcharge

Citing volatile raw-material costs, Chemtura Corp., Middlebury, Conn., last month imposed a volume-based surcharge on its Adiprene, Vibrathane, and Caytur urethane prepolymers and curatives. The surcharges range from $2/lb on top of the base price for less than one pallet to 15¢/lb on top of the base price for 11 to 17 pallets. No surcharge is levied on 18 or more pallets. 

 

Market Prices Effective Mid-Jan A
 
 RESIN GRADEb¢/LB¢/CU INc 

 ABS 

  

  
 
 MED IMPACT   84 - 95     3.2 - 3.6    
 HI IMPACT   89 - 125     3.3 - 4.7    
 X-HI IMPACT   99 - 140     3.7 - 5.3    
 HI HEAT   89 - 110     3.3 - 3.8    
 PIPE   89 - 100     3.7 - 3.8    
 SHEET   94 - 110     3.5 - 4.2    
 TRANSPARENT   129 - 200     5.6 - 8.8    
 FITTINGS   89 - 110     3.5 - 4.3    
 PLATING   160     6.0    
 FLAME RET   124 - 140     4.6 - 5.9    
 STRUCT FM   87 - 97     3.2 - 4.3    
 10% GLASS   129 - 140     4.8 - 5.6    
 30% GLASS   124 - 136     4.6 - 6.3    
 ABS/PC ALLOY   149 - 180     5.5 - 6.8    
 ABS/PVC ALLOY   134 - 139     5.0 - 5.2    
 ABS/NYLON ALLOY   194 - 350     9.0 - 16    


 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   693 - 1050     44.4 - 67.2    


 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   329 - 341     13.6 - 14.1    
 30% GLASS   331 - 350     15.0 - 15.8    
 40% GLASS   347 - 360     17.7 - 18.5    
 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   171 - 182     7.4 - 7.9    
 20% GLASS   177 - 190     7.6 - 8.2    
 30% GLASS   178 - 217     7.6 - 9.3    
 EXTRUSION   145 - 180     6.3 - 7.8    
 BLOW MOLD   150 - 185     7.0 - 7.5    
 STRUCT FOAM   149 - 181     6.4 - 7.8    
 20% GLASS   235 - 255     10.1 - 11.0    
 FR   166 - 197     7.1 - 8.5    
 CD   135 - 195     5.8 - 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)   78 - 80     4.0    
 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    
 RESIN GRADEb¢/LB¢/CU INc 


 POLYESTER THERMOSET 

  

  
 
 G-P ORTHO   142 - 152     NAd    
 ISOPHTHALIC   170 - 185     NAd    
 BIS-A   205 - 225     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   78 - 80     2.6    
 INJECTION   80 - 82     2.6 - 2.7    
 LID RESIN   82 - 84     2.7    
 LINER   77 - 79     2.6    
 CLARITY   76 - 78     2.5 - 2.6    
 EXTRU COATG   81 - 82     2.6 - 2.7    
 BLOW MOLD   83 - 85     2.7 - 2.8    


 LLDPE, BUTENE BASED 

  

  
 
 G-P MOLDING   75 - 77     2.5 - 2.6    
 LME 30-DAYj   64.7 Prices Went Up  
  2.1 Prices Went Up  
 
 FILM   77 - 79     2.6    
 ROTOMOLD   77 - 79     2.6    


 LLDPE, HAO-BASED 

  

  
 
 G-P MOLDING   78 - 80     2.4 - 2.5    
 LID RESIN   88 - 90     2.7 - 2.8    
 LINER FILM   81 - 83     2.5 - 2.6    


 HDPE 

  

  
 
 G-P INJ MOLD   75 - 77     2.5 - 2.6    
 FILM   84 - 86     2.8    
 BLOW MOLD   85 - 87     2.8 - 2.9    

 HMW-HDPE 

  

  
 
 BLOW MOLDING   82 - 84     2.6 - 2.7    
 FILM   83 - 85     2.6 - 2.7    
 PIPE   90 - 92     2.9 - 3.0    


 UHMW-PE 

100 - 125   

3.6 - 3.7   
 


 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   81 - 83     2.6 - 2.7    
 LME 30-DAYj   67.8 Prices Went Up  
  2.2 Prices Went Up  
 
 EXTRUSION FIBER   79 - 81     2.5 - 2.6    
 PROFILES   84 - 86     2.7    
 RANDOM COPOL          
 BLOW MOLDING   85 - 87     2.7 - 2.8    
 FILM   85 - 87     2.7 - 2.8    
 INJECTION   84 - 86     2.7    
 IMPACT COPOL          
 MED IMP   95 - 97     3.0 - 3.1    
 HI IMP   97 - 99     3.1 - 3.2    


 POLYSTYRENE (RAILCAR) 

  

  
 
 G-P CRYSTAL   86 - 92     3.2 - 3.4    
 HI HEAT   89 - 95     3.3 - 3.6    
 HIPS   87 - 92     3.3 - 3.4    
 SUPER HI IMP   97 - 101     3.6 - 3.8    
 FR   102 - 110     3.8 - 4.1    
 STRUCT FM (FR)   105 - 108     NA    


 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   58 - 60 Prices Went Up  
  NAd    
 PIPE   57 Prices Went Up  
  NAd    
 FILM   63 - 65 Prices Went Up  
  NAd    
 COPOLYMER FLOORING   69 - 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   218 - 235     NAd    
 HEAT & COR RES   243 - 248     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..