US polyether polyols prices were assessed up by 2 cents/lb on Wednesday on higher feedstock costs, bringing the total price increase for the first quarter to 6 cents/lb after the 4 cent/lb hike assessed in January.
Increases have already been implemented, although in a few cases the increases will not become effective until the beginning of the second quarter, depending on contract terms.
Higher prices for upstream propylene drove firmer values for polyether polyols.
Propylene contract prices rose by 4 cents/lb in December and 4 cents/lb in January, but are now retreating. Propylene contract prices were down by 1 cent/lb for February and are expected to trend down by 1-2 cents/lb for March after a propylene producer proposed a 1 cent/lb decrease for this month.
Demand for polyurethane (PU) products in automotive applications has been strong, sources said. The recent slowdown in activity along with an automobile inventory build-up was attributed to the unusually harsh winter, but participants expect that warming weather will bring back buyers to the showrooms.
In other sectors, demand is said to be seasonally adequate, although the snow and cold weather in the northeast have temporarily delayed some shipments.
Flexible slab polyether polyols prices are assessed at 134-164 cents/lb in bulk, after the increases.
US polyether polyols suppliers are Bayer MaterialScience, BASF, Dow Chemical and Huntsman.