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HDPE outperforms LDPE and LLDPE in global markets

by ChemOrbis Editorial Team -
  • 23/03/2023 (02:30)
Although a lack of support from demand capped PE hikes or even led to small discounts in major PE markets during March, HDPE fared better than other grades across the board due to better demand and tighter supply.

HDPE film prices hold better than other grades in China

For the past two weeks, HDPE film prices have been following a largely stable trend in China for the second week while LDPE and LLDPE film grades have been losing ground.

A weaker-than-expected demand recovery is cited as the main reason behind the downward pressure on spot prices. The steep fall in crude oil prices as well as a deepening banking crisis have also weakened the market confidence. Given the ongoing supply limitations from the Middle East amid the turnaround season in the region, some traders have attributed HDPE film’s better performance to a relatively tighter availability.

This week, Middle East origin HDPE film prices have remained stable at $980-1020/ton CIF China, cash basis. LDPE and LLDPE film prices of the same origin have retreated further by $10-20/ton, meanwhile.

A trader commented, “Import PE prices have continued to soften recently in line with the drop of crude oil prices and the fears growing over the banking crisis. The market sentiment has been impacted accordingly. Supply-wise, new turnarounds and more plants returning from turnarounds have continued pressure. Demand for packaging and agricultural sectors, meanwhile, has remained stable.”

Tighter import supply supports larger HDPE hikes in Europe

Similarly, HDPE grades fared better than other PE grades in Europe as a result of elusive import availability. Middle-Eastern shutdowns and subsequent shipment delays curbed export volumes for HDPE grades, not to mention European distributors’ limited import activities from the US. Traders have been doing back-to-back business recently due to long lead times and unpromising demand outlook inside Europe. That is to say, HDPE grades were a shade tighter than LDPE and mLLDPE. LLDPE also performed better due to low import quotas.

This provided domestic producers with the leverage to seek larger price hikes on HDPE grades, while some suppliers had low allocations for HDPE inj., film and b/m in particular. March PE deals were mostly closed with rollovers to increases of up to €30/ton, matching the entire ethylene hike, while HDPE grades were traded with larger increases of up to €50/ton this month.

HDPE’s premium over LDPE, LLDPE widens in Türkiye

Türkiye’s PE markets opened the month of March with new hikes on the heels of the prolonged cutbacks from Middle Eastern and Russian producers, not to mention limited supply for US origins. Nonetheless, overall demand was not up to expectation while regional producers, including a Saudi Arabian major, were forced to trim their initial increase targets to boost their sales.

Although the sentiment has cooled off recently and April expectations are now calling for discounts on deals for all products, HDPE film recorded more visible gains than other PE grades throughout March. Middle Eastern offers were up by $10/ton for LDPE and LLDPE film on a monthly average, data from ChemOrbis suggested. Yet, HDPE film gained $30/ton thanks to more supportive dynamics.

According to several players, inquiries for HDPE b/m (large container) were robust amid increased demand for toys, detergents and large barrels in the aftermath of devastating quakes that hit southeast Türkiye last month. Adding to the scene was tight prompt availability for this grade.

Currently, Middle Eastern HDPE film is trading only $20/ton below LDPE film on a weekly average as compared to $60/ton a month ago. HDPE film carries a premium over around $40/ton over LLDPE C4 film after both products traded at par last month.
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