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US PE export ideas mixed on higher crude, slower demand

HOUSTON-Rising crude oil prices have given a boost to polyethylene (PE) spot prices globally, but ample inventories in Latin America and subdued demand in China could make March export price hikes more difficult for US producers, sources said on Friday.

“[Latin America] customers bought a lot in January and now nobody is buying,” a trader said.

Some traders with unsold cargo already on the water are having to make aggressive offers in the region, the source added.

Another trader said China buyers remained very quiet, and as a result, Asian manufacturers were trying to sell more material outside Asia.

The second trader said buyers were reacting to the crude oil market and paying slightly higher prices for material than 7-10 days ago.

A US producer was considering price increases of 3-4 cents/lb ($66-88/tonne, €48-63/tonne) for March cargoes, a source said.

US high-density PE (HDPE) blow-moulding grade for export was at 58-61 cents/lb FOB (free on board) US Gulf in bags, as assessed by ICIS.

Sources said prices at the low end of the range may have been withdrawn from the market, however, because of higher values for feedstock spot ethylene.

Linear low-density PE (LLDPE) butene film was at 65-66 cents/lb FOB US Gulf in bags.

Major North American PE producers include Chevron Phillips Chemical, LyondellBasell, Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, Westlake, INEOS, Total, NOVA Chemicals and Formosa.