Robust spot resin trading generates above-average transaction volumes

05/15/2015

Spot resin trading was solid the week of May 4, 2015, writes the Plastics Exchange (Chicago) in its weekly market report. There was a good flow of both bids and offers generating an above average volume of transactions. Spot polyethylene (PE) prices were mostly higher, with the best gains seen in film grades. Spot PE supplies continued to thin out, but plenty was accessible if one was willing to simply pay the $0.05/lb increase slated for May. Spot polypropylene (PP) availability has been improving, but prices are holding steady, halting a several-week slide that erased a nickel. Although Houston PE prices have steadily risen, export demand remains healthy although it is still hampered by logistics limitations.

The major US energy markets were higher. WTI crude oil had a hefty $4.44/bbl range and reached above $62/bbl mid-week for the first time in 5 months. The June futures contract then eased to end the week at $59.39/bbl, for a small $0.24/bbl net gain. June Brent oil gave back most of the previous week's addition, settling Friday at $65.39/bbl, down $1.07/bbl. June natural gas pressed higher again, adding just more than a dime to close Friday at $2.88/mmBtu. Spot ethane recovered more, jumping $0.0015/gal to $0.1975/gal ($0.083/lb). Propane ceded a whole nickel, retracing back down to $0.4925/gal ($0.139/lb).

Ethylene trading picked up dramatically, with a high volume of material changing hands for both prompt and deferred delivery. Most Gulf crackers are now back online and fully operational. Ethylene for May delivery transacted heavily on both sides of $0.36/lb and most recently smack on, it was fractionally lower for the week. The forward curve remains essentially flat; ethylene for delivery any time over the next 18 months is currently priced within a penny of prompt levels.
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