Falling US PE spot prices foreshadow lower June contracts

24 June 2011 20:30  [Source: ICIS news]

Falling quartersHOUSTON (ICIS)--US spot offers for some grades of polyethylene (PE) have emerged 19% below May contract prices, suggesting that falling feedstock costs and pressure from overseas imports will cause PE contracts to settle lower in June, buyers said on Friday.

Prime low density PE (LDPE) was offered in the secondary market at 72-74 cents/lb ($1,587-1,631/tonne, €1,111-1,142/tonne) FOB (free on board) Houston for bagged material, while linear low density (LLDPE) butene was offered at 63-65 cents/lb FOB Houston for bagged material.

By comparison, LDPE film was assessed at 89-91 cents/lb DEL (delivered), and LLDPE butene was assessed at 78-81 cents/lb DEL for May contracts, according to ICIS.

Negotiations for June contracts are expected to continue through the end of the month, with some producers continuing to fight decreases, sources said.

One buyer reported hearing formal notification from one producer that prices would be down 3 cents/lb for LLDPE and HDPE and 6 cents/lb lower for LDPE for June.

Dropping crude prices, an 11% drop in ethylene spot prices since last week and sluggish demand caused by lower priced imports from Asia and the Middle East, indicate that other producers will follow suit, buyers said.

"They are trying to get flat on LDPE and LLDPE, but that is falling apart," a buyer said. "Not much to hang their hat on to stop a decrease in the days ahead."

Even with the lower prices, the US export market is hampered by prices in Asia that are 15-20 cents/lb lower than in North America, sources said.

"[US producers] are trying to hold prices as high as they can for now, but I think they are running out of room," one trader said. "There is no interest for US material."

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

($1 = 0.70)

For more on PE visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: Michelle Klump
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