Lower US polyethylene export prices have begun to show up in Houston, as per Platts. Lower export prices are common at the end of the year as producers look to reduce inventory ahead of the New Year but costs have also dropped considerably for PE producers. Spot ethylene has dropped a little over 8 cents/lb ($176/mt) from December 7 to 42.75 cents/lb FD USG on December 21.
High density polyethylene deals were talked at 53 cents/lb in railcars or 55.5 cents/lb (US$1224/mt) FAS Houston for blow molding and injection grades. Several traders commented, however, they have not been able to buy blow molding or injection at under 58 cents/lb FAS. The lower prices appeared not to be open to the entire trading community. One trader said he had bid for injection at 53 cents/lb in railcars but was rebuked when the producer said he could go no lower than 56 cents/lb. At the same time a trader said he was able to buy 50 railcars of injection at 53 cents/lb.
The LLDPE market showed a similar split on pricing. There were deals heard at 56 cents/lb in railcars, yet other traders said they had not seen any offers below 60 cents/lb.
LDPE deals were also talked lower. There were traders heard buying LDPE at 72-74 cents/lb in railcars, while others could not get offers from producers under 77-78 cents/lb. The lower prices were necessary to sell abroad, however, as US had not been competitive for some time against European, Mexican and Middle East LDPE that was sold into South America and other global markets where the US would need to compete.