HOUSTON (ICIS)--US April polyethylene (PE) settled flat on Thursday, with some producers separately delaying proposed increases until May.
The move marked the second rollover in monthly PE contracts this year. Contracts rolled over in January, rose 5 cents/lb ($110/tonne) in February and rose by 3 cents/lb in March.
In the past 12 months, PE contracts have increased by 9 cents/lb, with most of that coming this year. Industry data shows PE sales (not counting exports) increased 4.6% in the first quarter.
The rollover in April prices leaves high density (HDPE) blow moulding prices at 77-79 cents/lb.
Three producers – ExxonMobil, NOVA and Dow – issued individual announcements in the past week delaying April increases of 3 cents/lb until May. The most recent, by Dow, came this week.
None of the announcements explained the delay, although there was doubt in the market about the proposals because of the continuing drop in feedstock ethylene costs and falling PE contract prices around the world.
A trader said PE orders have been limited, with buying stalled and suppliers looking for more orders.
A distributor said the PE export market has been dead for weeks and that current prices will have to drop 5-10 cents/lb to spur activity.
“When you look globally, nobody’s buying,” the distributor said.
Major US PE producers include Chevron Phillips Chemical, Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, Formosa Plastics, LyondellBasell, NOVA Chemicals, Total and Westlake.