The Week in Chemistry: US PE spot prices up US$0.01/lb thus far in February, PP up US$0.02/lb; Westlake executives anticipate rebounding US PVC, PE demand, Huntsman responds to slow global MDI demand with some optimism for improved demand from China

Sample article from our Chemicals Industry

LOS ANGELES , February 22, 2023 () –


US Resins

US PE spot demand improved during the week of February 13, keeping prices flat while holding their US$0.01/lb gain from earlier in the month.

All commodity grades saw a healthy level of transactions, with LDPE leading by a small margin.

PE producers achieved their sought-after US$0.03/lb contract increase in January, and continue to pursue an average increase of US$0.06/lb for February.

PP spot prices have held a US$0.02/lb increase for the month of February, though prices rolled flat during the week of February 13.

Spot polymer-grade propylene prices have experienced upward pressure in February--a result of considerable spot purchases by PP producers.

The primary source of this information is Plastics Today.

US PVC Demand

PVC and PE demand appear to be on the rise in early 2023, according to Westlake CEO Albert Chao.

In addition, feedstock and energy costs in the US have declined, though energy costs in Europe are still elevated.

Westlake’s business shifted to higher export sales in the second half of 2022 as a result of lower demand in the US, COO Roger Kearns noted. 

The company could see more typical levels of export and domestic sales in the coming months, based on improving domestic demand, he said.

PVC was assessed by Platts at US$835/tonne FAS Houston on February 15. US domestic LDPE hit US$992/tonne on February 17.

The primary source of this information is S&P Global Platts.

Global MDI Demand

Huntsman executives are pointing to slow MDI demand and poor economics as the company prepares temporary production halts at two plants in the Netherlands.

The company previously idled a production plant in Louisiana.

January’s 30% rise in feedstock benzene spot prices also contributed to the decision to halt production.

Globally, industry operating rates for MDI sat at about 70% in January due to weak demand from construction end uses, according to CEO Peter Huntsman.

Going forward, improving demand from China could support improved demand and pricing, Huntsman noted.

The primary source of this information is S&P Global Platts.

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