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Americas: Weak China market, crude volatility slow US PE exports

The weak China market for polyethylene balanced the surge in crude prices to slow the PE export market, traders said this week.

"Buyers see a weak China and that's kept their demand down," a trader who regularly exports to South America said Thursday.

There were re-export offers out of China to the West Coast of South America, too, which added to buyers' uncertainty about recent higher offers out of the US.

The re-export offers were not necessarily more competitive than US offers, traders said, but the existence of the offers meant the world's demand indicator, China, was long on inventory with slow demand.

High-density blow molding and film were offered out of Shanghai at $1,360-$1,380/mt FOB, and LLDPE was offered at $1,490/mt FOB.

US offers of blow molding were heard in a range from $1,323-$1,345/mt FAS Houston, while LLDPE-butene was offered in a range from $1,433-$1,477/mt FAS Houston.

Traders said that even though US offers were lower, buyers were still hesitant to make deals as the market was too difficult to read when the volatility in crude was factored into the demand picture from China.

Meanwhile the crude oil market had already begun to slip, trading at $96.52/barrel at 4:15 p.m. EST, which was down about $7 from a session-high of $103.41/b reached in overnight electronic trade.