Prices Up Almost Across the Board.
PE makes split on hike
A PE price hike of 5[cent]/lb was announced for April 1 by Dow, Equistar, Nova, and Chevron. Solvay broke ranks in late April, splitting the increase into 3[cent] for May 1 and 2[cent] June 1. The 5[cent] hike follows increases of 4[cent] for Feb. 1 and 3[cent] for March 1. Some resin producers say they're getting the full 7[cent] on these earlier increases, except for HDPE injection and blow molding grades, which went up only 6[cent]. High-EVA resins are excluded from increases.
Contributing factors: Ethylene monomer plants suffered a spate of planned and unplanned outages in the first quarter and still aren't all back in operation. Also, PE producers want to capture what profits they can in the first half of this year, before big capacity increases from Nova and Union Carbide kick in during the second half. Carbide will start up 1.3-billion-lb of LLDPE/HDPE in August or September. Toward year-end, Nova will start its 850-million-lb Advanced Sclairtech PE plant.
Resin producers say strong March sales included a lot of prebuying ahead of two price increases. April sales fell back for some resin grades.
PP follows monomer upward
PP producers Montell, Phillips, Exxon, BP Amoco, and Union Carbide announced 4[cent] hikes on all grades for May 1. Fina called for just 3[cent]. These hikes come on top of 3[cent] increases announced for Feb. 15, March 1, and April 1.
Resin producers say prices rose 2-3[cent] in April, barely keeping up with monomer hikes. Big processors say they were paying 1.5-2[cent] more in April.
Contributing factors: Propylene monomer rose 2[cent] in March and 2[cent] again in April to approach a record high level. The spread between PP and propylene monomer prices is at a historic low, resin producers say. Oil refineries reportedly continue to steer more crude oil into gasoline production, keeping propylene monomer tight. Propylene appeared headed for another 3-4[cent] increase in May, buyers say. Meanwhile, PP demand is very strong--up 11-12% on an annual basis in the first quarter.
PVC up, but demand softens
Processors say they paid 2[cent] more in April, while a second 2[cent] increase for April 1 was pushed off to May. In late April, Westlake and OxyChem announced a third 2[cent] increase for May 1, though it wouldn't have much impact before June 1.
Contributing factors: It's still too soon to tell if the delayed April increase will stick, producers say. PVC demand remains strong, though some profile producers say they are seeing some softening in end-use markets.
PS takes a hike
PS producers said they put through 3[cent]/lb increases in April after announcing two hikes of 3[cent]/lb for February and April. A 4[cent] hike was slated for May, though it wouldn't hit contract customers until June. Nova announced a further 5[cent] increase for PS and 8[cent] for EPS, both officially scheduled for June 1. Nova's EPS announcement follows an 8[cent] hike that reportedly went through in April for smaller accounts.
Contributing factors: Increases so far have affected smaller buyers, producers say, since PS is a market with a lot of 60-day protection. Styrene monomer prices rose 3[cent] in March, and supplies are tight. Producers announced a further 3[cent] monomer increase for May, even though spot prices softened in April.
Engineering resins rise
Dow Plastics said Vydyne nylons would go up 12[cent]/lb on June 1. DuPont announced 8-10% price increases for Zytel nylons, 6-8% for Delrin acetal, and 5% for Zenite LCP for June 1. Ticona will hike standard Celcon acetal 3-5%, specialty and colored grades 6-8%, on June 15. Celanese nylon 66 goes up 8-10% on that date. Ticona raised its Celstran long-glass nylon 6 by 15[cent]/lb on May 19. (It also boosted Celstran PP grades by 8[cent]/lb.)
TPE tabs lifted
Advanced Elastomer Systems announced its first hike in more than five years. On June 1, prices for Santoprene, Vyram, Dytron XL, Trefsin, and Vistaflex olefinic TPEs go up 5%.
Unsaturated polyesters up
Ashland raised prices of all its polyester and vinyl ester resins by 4[cent]/lb on April 3. Cook and AOC hiked resins and gelcoats 3[cent]/lb on May 1 and May 15, respectively. Reichhold said it would raise polyesters 3[cent] on June 5.