Plastics Technology

JAN 2019

Plastics Technology - Dedicated to improving Plastics Processing.

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Prices of nearly all volume resins were flat or lower in December, with PP and PE showing the most dramatic declines going into the new year. Even the exception in the group, nylon 66, which saw prices spiking throughout 2018, was stabi- lizing. A drop in feedstock prices, starting with crude oil, was a contributing factor. And then there was a general seasonal slow- down in demand and, in some cases, a buildup in supplier inven- tories, as well as competition from lower-priced imports. These were the views last month of purchasing consultants from Resin Technology, Inc. (RTi), Fort Worth, Texas; senior editors from Houston-based PetroChemWire (PCW); and CEO Michael Greenberg of The Plastics Exchange in Chicago. PE PRICES DOWN Polyethylene prices dropped 3¢/lb in November and additional decreases of 2-3¢/lb were being offered to some customers going Volume Resin Prices Enter 2019 on Downward Path Significant declines in feedstock prices, general year-end slowdown, and resin export/import issues contribute to this trend. By Lilli Manolis Sherman Senior Editor into December, according to Mike Burns, RTi's v.p. of PE markets. The big change was crude oil dropping from $76 to $50/bbl. Both Burns and PCW senior editor David Barry said the North American PE market has to adjust, particularly because of its need to export. Both noted that the spread between domestic and export prices has been signifi- cant—for example, exported LLDPE butene grade fell below 40¢/lb—a 10-year low. Burns noted that PE supplier inven- tories are 1 billion lb higher than a year ago. Barry added that PE exports typically have been high in December, after which the market tightens up—but this was not the case in 2018. He noted factors such as concern about a slowdown in the global economy, coupled with the huge amount of new North American PE capacity that has come on stream—with more to come, such as Sasol's 1-billion lb/yr LLDPE plant in Lake Charles, La.—in an already saturated market. The Plastic Exchange's Greenberg charac- terized much of November's PE spot market as anemic until the end of the month, when the market sprang to life. "Buyers were driven back to the market for different reasons. Some needed to procure minimal spot material to keep their plants running; while others, pleased with the recent price decline, ordered a bit more, both to use and add to their coffers." He, too, saw potential for even lower prices in December. As for the new year, PCW's Barry noted that first quarter could be like 2018's fourth quarter, with slumping prices unless oil prices turn around and change the PE cost structure globally. But RTi's Burns noted that PE prices will start the year 5-10¢/lb lower than the industry had anticipated, so suppliers would aim to stop any further erosion. He also expected that strong domestic demand growth of over 7% in 2018 would continue through 2019. PP PRICES DROP BY DOUBLE-DIGITS Polypropylene prices fell 10¢/lb in November, in step with pro- pylene monomer and with strong potential to drop further in Polyethylene Price Trends HDPE Injection NOV DEC HDPE Blow Molding NOV DEC HDPE HMW NOV DEC LDPE NOV DEC 3¢/lb LLDPE Butene NOV DEC 3¢/lb Resin Grade ¢/lb POLYETHYLENE (railcar) LDPE, LINER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98-100 LLDPE BUTENE, FILM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81-83 NYMEX 'FINANCIAL' FUTURES . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 JANUARY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 HDPE, G-P INJECTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103-105 HDPE, BLOW MOLDING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93-95 NYMEX 'FINANCIAL' FUTURES . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 JANUARY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 HDPE, HMW FILM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110-112 POLYPROPYLENE (railcar) G-P HOMOPOLYMER, INJECTION . . . . . . . . . . . 82-84 NYMEX 'FINANCIAL' FUTURES . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 JANUARY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 IMPACT COPOLYMER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84-86 POLYST YRENE (railcar) G-P CRYSTAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108-110 HIPS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114-116 PVC RESIN (railcar) G-P HOMOPOLYMER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83-85 PIPE GR ADE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82-84 PET (truckload) U.S. BOT TLE GR ADE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73-75 3¢/lb 3¢/lb 3¢/lb Market Prices Effective Mid-December 2018 46 JANUARY 2019 Plastics Technology PTonline.com YO U R B U S I N E S S Resin Pricing Analy sis

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