The spot resin markets were busy during the week of Jan. 12-16; the flow of offers was high and prices continued to slide, according to The Plastics Exchange. Buyer activity was also solid, but processors are mostly picking away with minimal volume as they anticipate even cheaper prices ahead. There is a very wide range of prices quoted in the market; resellers are looking to minimize losses when selling off high cost inventories, but will generally accept a reasonable offer in order to move the material. Processors are rapidly dropping bids and leading the market lower and while unreasonably low-ball bids are not workable, very sharp prices for certain grades could be do-able if there is patience for fresh railcars to deliver or hit the warehouse for packaging.
Energy markets continued to trade in an extremely volatile fashion and ended the week just mildly mixed, while March rolled to the front month. WTI Crude Oil swung in a 14% range; a strong rally on Friday helped the March futures contract eke out a small weekly gain of $.14/bbl to $49.13/bbl. March Brent Oil moved around in a $6/bbl range, shedding another $1.13/bbl to end the week at $50.17/bbl. Natural Gas had a huge range, almost 18% as it recovered $.14/mmBtu to $3.087/mmBtu. Spot Ethane added about a cent to $.20/gal ($.084/lb). Spot propane firmed $.035/gal to $.49/gal ($.139/lb).
Spot ethylene was actively traded and prices continued to lose ground. Ethylene for January delivery initially transacted around $.36/lb, down nearly $.02/lb, however, there were then several cracker disruptions, both planned and unplanned, which contributed to the market firming as the week wore on. At one point prompt ethylene recovered its losses before finally ending the week back on a down tick, shedding a net cent or so, last trading a shade below $.37/lb. The Evangeline Pipeline shut down again causing ethylene in Louisiana to transact around a dime premium versus the benchmark in Mont Belvieu, TX. The forward curve is fairly flat for the next several months, but then prices begin to fall off to generate a $.02/lb discount by Dec. 2015.