Weak demand limiting US PE price hikes - buyers

16 January 2009 17:39  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US polyethylene (PE) suppliers’ 7 cent/lb ($154/tonne, €117/tonne) price-hike initiatives were on shaky ground because of weak downstream demand, market sources said on Thursday.

At least one producer would postpone the January increase, according to a source.

Other buyers said the outcome of the January price-hike initiatives would remain uncertain for another week or so, while some sources said they expected January prices to settle at anywhere from a rollover to a 3-cent increase.

“PE producers are pushing for at least half the announced increase, but with demand this soft they’ll get pushback, which could result in a rollover,” a packaging converter said.

Resin in the secondary and wide-spec markets was priced 2-4 cents higher, and availability was normal, a buyer in the film and sheet sector said.

Downstream industries were buying cautiously because of economic uncertainty, and there was not much resin being purchased at the higher January prices, buyers said.

“The people I’m talking to and selling to aren’t bringing in anything they don’t need,” a PE pipe manufacturer said.

Earlier in the week, KeyBanc analysts said they expected US plastics demand will remain depressed for several quarters to come, most notably in automotive and recreational end-markets.

Not including any January increase, domestic contract prices for blow moulding grades of high density polyethylene (HDPE) were 40-43 cents/lb DEL (delivered), according to global chemical market intelligence service ICIS pricing.

North American PE producers include Nova, Dow, Total, INEOS, Formosa, ExxonMobil, LyondellBasell and Chevron Phillips.

($1 = €0.76)

For more on polyethylene visit ICIS chemical intelligence
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By: David Barry
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