Plastics Technology

OCT 2018

Plastics Technology - Dedicated to improving Plastics Processing.

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? destruction for both the monomer and PP." He also noted that on-purpose propylene plants are up and running again after unplanned outages. Both Greenberg and PCW reported a very active spot PP market and better availability overall. Industry sources generally fore- casted that PP prices could drop 2-4¢/lb in the near term. PCW and Newell both noted that the wide gap between domestic and inter- national prices was attracting imports of resin and finished goods. PS PRICES FLAT TO DOWN Polystyrene prices were flat in August, following a 3¢/lb July drop. Price hikes of 4¢/lb for Sept. 1 were issued by both Americas Styrenics and Total. By August's end, however, Ineos Styrolution had not taken similar action. Robin Chesshier, RTi's v.p. of PE, PS and nylon 6 markets, anticipated that without the latter's action, the increase would flounder. Moreover, Chesshier ventured that even if Ineos Styrolution issued a price hike, there would be only partial implementation. "It's a weak market. Demand is slowing, styrene monomer prices have dropped, pressure from benzene prices is insufficient." Barring a natural disaster, she expected prices this month to remain mostly flat and trend downwards through the fourth quarter as demand wanes and operating rates decrease further. Chesshier attributed some of this trajectory to Chinese import tariffs on styrene monomer. PCW reported flat U.S. spot pricing through August and anticipated the same for September. PCW also noted that August PS demand appeared healthy, with adequate feedstock supply. Implied styrene monomer production cost based on a 30/70 formula of spot ethylene and benzene was flat at 32.9 ¢/lb by the end of August, compared with 31.6-31.7¢/lb in late July. PVC PRICES FLAT TO DOWN PVC prices continued flat through August and were expected to remain so through last month, with the potential for downward pressure from lower export prices this month, according to Mark Kallman, RTi's v.p. of PVC and engineering-resin markets. Cost pressure from ethylene was insignificant. PCW noted that the 1.25¢/lb ethylene hike translates to about a half-cent increase in the cost of making PVC. Kallman noted that production rates dropped along with export demand, but domestic demand was up through much of the third quarter, resulting in a fairly balanced market. PCW reported that some industry sources expected export prices to continue to soften, with a widening delta between export and domestic prices. However, others expected the erosion in export pricing to have hit bottom, and reasoned that export prices will not drop again because the loss of both China and Turkey (driven by tariffs) as destinations for U.S. resin had already been "baked into the market." PCW also ventured that strengthened demand for PVC from September through November, as has been the case in some previous years, could resist any downward pull from lower export pricing. PET PRICES FLAT TO LOWER Prices for domestic bottle-grade PET ended August at 78-82¢/lb delivered East Coast and West Coast, and at 81-83¢/lb delivered to Midwest locations for truckload business, according to PCW. This was up 4¢/lb from July. Higher prices were driven primarily by strong demand for PET bottles, packaging and fiber going into consumer products. At the same time, higher costs for PET feed- stock in August saw PET prices rise for high-volume domestic PET customers with monthly contracts. PET supply from U.S. plants was actually steady from July to August. The first truckload shipments were delivered to domestic processors from the new Apple Grove plant in West Virginia , now owned by Taiwan's Far Eastern . Meanwhile, prices of PET imports were at parity with U.S. prices. PCW says the U.S. remains awash in imported PET due to global PET oversupply, especially in South America and Asia, while the U.S. market remains one of the world's most robust due to its heavy consumption of single-use plastic products. PCW reported steady PET prices in early September, with expectation that demand would be strong throughout the month, keeping prices 1-2 ¢/lb higher as the summertime carbonated- beverage and water-bottle season winds down. But PCW anticipated PET prices in October would taper off by 2-4¢/lb as a result of the typical seasonal drop in demand and robust PET imports. Ramping up production at Apple Grove should also add to a somewhat bloated supply picture as the fall season kicks in, PCW reported. ABS PRICES FLAT ABS prices remained fairly stable through most of the third quarter, as they had in the second quarter, following the 5¢/lb increases in January, according to RTi's Kallman. He expected flat prices in September. Demand has been good, in step with GDP growth, driven by automotive and construction. Feedstock prices did not increase sufficiently to allow suppliers to push through a new increase. Most importantly, despite a 4¢/gal hike to $2.88/gal in August, benzene has remained below the $3/ gal threshold. And small increases in acrylonitrile and butadiene had insignificant impact on prices. Kallman said some downward pressure could be coming this quarter from lower-cost ABS imports. Polystyrene Price Trends GPPS AUG SEPT HIPS AUG SEPT PVC Price Trends Pipe AUG SEPT Gen. Purpose AUG SEPT PET Price Trends Bottle Grade AUG SEPT 4¢/lb @plastechmag 63 Plastics Technology YO U R B U S I N E S S

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