Polyethylene Prices, markets & analysis
With a network of price reporters across Asia, Europe and the US, ICIS is fully equipped to keep you updated on everything that happens in the global Polyethylene market, whether you buy or sell Polyethylene or related products.
From daily and weekly reports containing price assessments obtained by our network of local reporters, to the Polyethylene news and analysis, we provide the tools you need to make confident business decisions.
Polyethylene overview Transcript
Polyethylene or PE is mainly sold as small pellets to converters who then heat it up and form it into films, bottles and other useful shapes.
We cover several grades there’s several grades, low density polyethylene or LDPE, supply in the US is the tightest of all the grades and also commands the highest price premium.
Linear low density or LLDPE is next off the value chain for producers, and then there’s high density polyethylene or HDPE for moulding is typically viewed as the baseline commodity grade.
Packaging is another major use for polyethylene. Polyethylene is also used as an application in injection moulding of household goods and pipe extrusion.
In recent years, buyers have been faced with increasing complexity in the polyethylene market.
Different factors of feedstock costs, supply / demand balances and export pricing have come into play at different times.
Pricing increasingly depends on international markets because of the low cost of US feedstocks. Producers will be able to export whatever material they do not sell in the US.
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Polyethylene news and market information products from ICIS
We offer the following regional Polyethylene analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Polyethylene marketplace.
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Other types of reports we cover for Polyethylene
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News & analysis
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Polyethylene: Market overview
The economic crisis in the eurozone and other regions continues to affect polyethylene (PE) markets globally. However, signs of economic improvement are boosting sentiment and expectations for annual growth rates to exceed 2012 levels.
Naphtha remains the driver of PE prices in Europe and Asia, but the Middle East and North America have the production cost advantage with gas-based production.
Trade flows in the PE sector are expected to change dramatically in the next few years, as shale gas exploration and resultant ethylene and PE capacities are developed.
PE players in Europe were slightly less gloomy over the next quarter as there were signs of improving economies in some parts of the continent. Output in Europe will remain cut back, and some PE plants are closing.
In Asia, Chinese PE demand growth is improving, based on restocking activity following two years of weaker demand growth, increased demand for pre-packaged foods and rising demand for exports and packaging material from abroad.
In the US, some sources have suggested the market as a whole will be somewhat tight in the next few years, at least until new production comes on line beginning in 2017.
Metallocene linear low density polyethylene (MLLDPE) remains a product with a strong future in terms of growth as downgauging plays an ever-important role in films markets. As with all PE grades, crude oil and naphtha pricing affect prices globally.
New capacity in Europe led to some fierce competition in the early months of 2013 but this is now being absorbed as demand has improved and export possibilities have become available.
As prices have risen, imports from South Korea play a more important role. However, the uncertain nature of global markets makes many buyers unwilling to risk buying material that takes almost two months to arrive.
Asian MLLDPE prices track prices in the wider linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) market and crude oil and naphtha prices affect the MLLDPE price direction.
Trade flows in this sector are expected to change in the next few years, as shale gas exploration and resultant ethylene and new MLLDPE capacities are developed.
Updated to mid-August 2013
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The three main types of polyethylene (PE) are low density PE (LDPE), linear low density PE (LLDPE) and high density PE (HDPE).
HDPE is a thermosetting white solid whose molecular chains are comparatively straight and closely aligned. It is resistant to most chemicals, insoluble in organic solvents and has high impact and tensile strength.
LLDPE is a thermosetting, translucent white solid whose chains are comparatively straight and closely aligned, and has a lower density than HDPE.
LDPE is a thermosetting white solid which has highly branched and widely spaced molecular chains.
End uses of HDPE include blow-moulding applications such as bottles, packaging containers, drums, fuel tanks for automobiles, toys and house wares. Injection-moulded articles made from HDPE include crates, pallets, packaging containers and caps, paint cans, house wares and toys.
LLDPE’s short chain branching gives it higher tensile strength, puncture and anti-tear properties, making it particularly suitable for high strength film applications.
LDPE is used mainly in film applications for both packaging and non-packaging uses. Other markets include extrusion coatings, sheathing in cables and injection moulding applications.