Polypropylene Plastic Material

Polypropylene

The Polypropylene market continues to charge into higher ground. Spot resin prices have been climbing weekly and are now up about $.22/lb for the year. Propylene monomer looks to be settling $.04/lb higher for November, and depending on resin producer, there is another $.04 or $.05/lb price increase nominated for December, so we anticipate resin prices to continue heading upward. 

Polypropylene demand has been very good, so even though there has been a fair amount of spot resin offered, it has been selling quickly. This has not been a market for buyers to negotiate hard, but resin could be bought as it is offered. Even those offers that seem slightly expensive for the market are disappearing and then the new offers come in priced a little bit higher.

It has been a tough market for Polypropylene buyers, barely a price pause all year. Last year some processors claimed that they could not make money if they had to pay more than $.35/lb for their resin. Now at $.55/lb it seems that some have learned that they could make more money selling off their resin inventory rather than actually processing the pellets! It is a creative and temporary solution for survival, but in the long run processors need to continue passing along higher costs downstream at an even faster pace. 

Polypropylene producers, on the other hand, are mostly in pretty good shape; they have achieved more increases in resin prices than their feedstock costs have advanced. They have utilized the export market to reduce their inventory positions and have been running their reactors, with good margins, at near sold out levels.

The US dollar continues to devalue and has made all-time lows against the Euro and multiyear lows versus the Asian currencies. This makes US products, resin included effectively on sale to foreign markets. Foreign resin demand is picking up again and producers are still looking to export what they can, but US prices have risen to the point that they are only competitive, and are not an especially great deal to foreign buyers.

Polystyrene
The Polystyrene market made its big move higher in the late summer adding $.16/lb in less than two months; prices have since consolidated at this elevated level. During this time, price protection expired on even the largest processors, so producers are finally caught up in passing through their sharply higher monomer costs. Even with styrene monomer around $.60/lb, current PS selling prices should be sufficient for profitable resin production.

Polystyrene producers still have plenty of ground to makeup from losses earlier in the year, when feedstock costs soared much faster than resin price increases could be implemented. So expect their best effort to maintain control of the market to protect and even extend their price gains.

Producers had an $.08/lb price increase slated for Nov 1st, but the market was still tired and not been ready for another surge. Polystyrene prices have even come off a couple of cents from their peak, with an ample supply of both HIPS and GPPS now available in the spot market. However, processors’ inventories are low and this market could change quickly now that producers are more realistically looking to enforce $.04/lb on Nov 15th and market permitting, the other $.04/lb on Dec 1st.