Plastics Technology

JUL 2018

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invoice May deliveries. PCW predicts that prices of PET (prime, offgrade and rPET) are likely to increase by another 1-3¢/lb in June-July, driven by "skyrocketing" con- sumption of carbonated soft drinks and bottled water. This projected price increase also assumes that crude oil prices will rise or stay at current elevated levels. Meanwhile, U.S. PET import prices stood at 72-74¢/lb (delivered duty-paid to the West Coast), up 2-3¢ from April—a rise attrib- uted directly to anti-dumping duties on PET imports from Brazil, Indonesia, South Korea, Pakistan, and Taiwan. ABS PRICES FLAT ABS prices remained fairly stable through the second quarter, fol- lowing the 5¢/lb increases in January. Suppliers' efforts to push through price hikes of 6-7¢/lb failed as feedstock prices retreated and competition rose from cheaper ABS imports, according to RTi's Kallman. Noting that the market is now more balanced, he ven- tured that prices would hold level at least through June, with some upward potential late in the third quarter. PC PRICES GENERALLY STEADY Polycarbonate prices were generally flat through the second quarter, following the implementation of January increases of up to 14¢/lb, with independent compounders and secondary suppliers implementing similar increases in February-March, according to RTi's Kallman. There were some new price-increase attempts announced for May, but implementation was at best mixed, leaving Kallman to characterize overall PC pricing as steady. Further, he foresaw PC prices remaining mostly flat through the third quarter. "Keep your eyes on prices of benzene, propylene and lower-priced imports," he noted. He described demand as good on a global level and domestic automotive demand as good but not as strong as in 2017, with a reduction in Asian imports through June. NYLON 6 FLAT; NYLON 66 UP Nylon 6 prices remained flat from March through May, as benzene prices bottomed out at $1.90/gal and moved up to only $1.96/gal in May, according to RTi's Kallman. Potential for some upward pres- sure is possible this month, as benzene oversupply will be finished and prices could firm up. Nylon 6 plants are operating at high rates as there is increasing industry talk of substituting for nylon 66 due to the latter's higher prices. Nylon 66 prices were largely flat through May, after moving up 15-20¢/lb in the first quarter, driven by a global market that became very tight, according to Kallman. "We had seven force majeure actions on intermediates through the first two quarters. Recovery will be long—supply is tight globally. He anticipates upward pricing pressure in the third quarter due to supply tightness and possible price increases for butadiene and propylene monomer. initial response might be to wait out this cycle, there are some real supply issues that could help keep PP prices elevated for a while." PS PRICES DOWN Polystyrene prices dropped 4¢/lb in May, and RTi's Kallman expected flat-to-slightly upward movement in June and July. He cited a bit of cost pressure from benzene, up only 6¢/gal in May, and butadiene, up 7¢/lb. However, ethylene contracts settled lower in April and May and were likely to sink lower in June. At the same time, he foresaw more upward pressure in August, due to stronger demand for PS during its normally strong season, including some pre-buying for hurricane season and some tightness in benzene and styrene monomer. Going into June, PCW reported that spot GPPS and HIPS prices were down 4-5¢/lb after peaking in early April. Feedstock costs were steady, with the implied-styrene-cost formula (based on 70% spot benzene/30% spot ethylene) was flat at 32.6¢/lb. PVC PRICES FLAT PVC prices were flat in May, driven by very low ethylene contract costs that were likely to fall another 2-3¢/lb, which would reduce the cost of making PVC by 1-1.5¢/lb, according to RTi's Kallman. However, spot ethylene prices bottomed out at 12¢/lb and were up 3.25¢/lb by the end of May. PCW reported that late-settling April ethylene contracts settled 1.5¢/lb lower, at 26.75¢/lb, and May contracts dropped 0.75¢/lb to 26¢/lb. "Resin buyers were trying to discern how the settlements will affect their PVC prices, as a drop of 2.25¢/ lb in ethylene could imply a reduction of about 1¢/lb in PVC pricing." However, both PCW and Kallman noted that suppliers' stance was that low ethylene prices cannot be sustained and that domestic demand picked up nicely in April-May, as did exports, a trend likely to continue into June and the third quarter. Kallman noted that suppliers have been running their plants at very high rates due to very low feedstock costs. PET PRICES UP PCW reported increases in domestic bottle-grade PET prices in May by 3-5¢/lb to the mid-70¢/lb range (delivered Midwest), driven by rising oil and PET feedstock prices. Average U.S. PET feedstock costs in May were up 2.4¢/lb from April to 61.28¢/lb, according to one calculation used by large-volume PET suppliers and buyers to PVC Price Trends Pipe MAY JUNE Gen. Purpose MAY JUNE PET Price Trends Bottle Grade MAY JUNE 3-5¢/lb Polystyrene Price Trends GPPS MAY JUNE HIPS MAY JUNE 4¢/lb 4¢/lb @plastechmag 55 Plastics Technology YO U R B U S I N E S S

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