US PE prices fell by 5-10 cents/lb in December

19 December 2008 20:11  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US polyethylene (PE) prices fell by 5-10 cents/lb ($110-220/tonne, €77-154/tonne) for December and business has slowed significantly, buyers and sellers said on Friday.

One buyer described the fourth quarter as the slowest quarter in years.

Including a 10-cent decrease for December, US high density PE (HDPE) blow moulding prices were 40-43 cents/lb DEL (delivered) after peaking at 88-91 cents/lb in July and August, according to data from global chemical market intelligence service ICIS pricing.

At least one producer formally lowered its prices by 10 cents/lb during the second half of the month after starting the month down by 5 cents/lb, the buyer said.

Another producer said it was lowering prices by 5-10 cents/lb this month but would not lower prices by more than 48 cents/lb from peak levels in July and August.

Other sellers dropped their prices by 5 cents/lb at the start of the month, but it was unclear if they had dropped prices further.

There would likely be pressure to renegotiate any December prices that were down only 5 cents/lb, a broker said.

Producers have nominated 7 cent/lb price hikes for January, but buyer sentiment was that prices would change little in either direction because of weak demand.

Producers were expected to ask for the higher prices in early January, but buyers would have plenty of purchasing alternatives in the secondary market, sources said.

The hikes could be postponed if producers cannot sell enough resin in the first half of January.

Major US PE producers include Dow Chemical, LyondellBasell, Chevron Phillips Chemical, Total, Formosa, ExxonMobil and INEOS.

($1 = €0.70)

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By: David Barry
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