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PP & PVC tabs soft, PET firms up.

Polypropylene prices, which held firm through much of the year, softened in the summer heat, particularly in certain markets. PVC resin price hikes amounting to 2[cents]/lb did not materialize in August as suppliers had expected. Resin makers will try again to push them through this month.

Despite sluggishness elsewhere, bottle-grade PET prices did move up following successful implementation of a whopping 7[cents]/1b price hike in June.

PP PRICES SOFTEN

Polypropylene prices wilted in June and July, and further effort by suppliers to raise tabs is not likely anytime soon.

Contributing factors: Erosion of PP prices by around 2[cents]/lb (depending on the market) is generally attributed to the major new capacity brought on stream recently by Phillips-Sumika and Exxon Chemical, although June and July are usually slow months, suppliers say. For whatever reason, competitive pricing activity has increased, particularly in market segments such as fibers and compounding, according to one leading producer. Profile extrusion and injection molding grades are holding up better, suppliers say, except for those used in some consumer goods such as disposable drink cups and ice chests, which typically experience a fall-off as the end of the summer season approaches.

Although business is projected to turn upward this month, suppliers are not looking for an early opening to raise prices. One producer ventures that a price hike on the order of around 3[cents]/lb could come early next year.

PVC PRICES STAY PUT

Last month, vinyl resin suppliers were again unsuccessful in implementing their two consecutive 1[cent]/lb price hikes that were scheduled for June and July. No producer has yet rescinded its increases in the hope that implementation may be possible in September - though that now appears doubtful.

[TABULAR DATA OMITTED]

Contributing factors: June and July proved to be slow months for PVC resin buying, although some suppliers attribute this to inventory adjustments at processors. Sales are expected to rebound this month. Says one supplier, "September is typically a good month, and we expect processors with depleted inventories to start buying."

PET BOTTLE-GRADE PRICES UP

PET bottle-resin prices moved up for the second time this year. A 7[cents]/lb hike was fully implemented in June, following a 4[cents]/lb increase earlier this year.

Contributing factors: Suppliers say higher PET prices were needed to return to some reasonable level of profitability after the preceding slump. Feedstock prices have risen because of tight supplies of terephthalic acid and its precursor, paraxylene.

Domestic growth for bottle-grade PET is projected to be 10-12% for the year. While some industry sources expect declining prices for PET next year, others believe tabs are more likely to remain flat in the face of solid demand growth.

Three Resin Expansions

Here are some of the latest additions to the ongoing resin-capacity build-up:

* Shell Chemical Co., Houston, plans to debottleneck Kraton G styrenic TPE production at Belpre, Ohio, by more than 10 million lb/yr in 1998.

* Exxon Chemical Co., Houston, plans to debottleneck high-pressure LDPE capacity at Baton Rouge, La., by 210 million lb/yr. The project is scheduled for completion by the first quarter of 2000.

* Epsilon Products Co., Marcus Hook, Pa., released more details on the 800-million-lb/yr Unipol PP plant being built in Garyville, La., for start-up in the third quarter of 1999. New grades slated for production there include random copolymers for packaging, stiffer impact copolymers, and homopolymers for nonwoven fabrics.
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:polypropylene; polyvinyl chloride; polyethylene terephthalate
Author:Sherman, Lilli Manolis
Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:Sep 1, 1997
Words:570
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