Polyethylene prices were mostly steady to lower while polypropylene fell $0.02/lb, in a spot resin trading market described as consistent. Spot-trading platform, The Plastics Exchange reported that the quantity of railcar offers increased as large-volume demand softened and was replaced with a steady flow of truck-load orders. "A sense of uncertainty wafted through the market as global energy and commodities markets were hit hard this past week," TPE CEO Michael Greenberg noted. As a result, at least one PE producer postponed its April $0.04/lb price increase until May. At this point, others have not yet followed suit, so whether or not that sticks for the entire market is to be determined. April polypropylene contracts dropped a hefty $0.10/lb, bringing the 2-month loss to $0.16/lb, but still up a nickel for the year. Export bids slid and producers seemed more aggressive and willing to entertain opportunities at the lower prices.
Energy markets continue to converge, bringing the crude oil: natural gas ratio in to 20:1. That is the tightest the ration has been since the January 2011. One year ago, the ratio had gotten as wide as 51:1. June rolled to the front month, and crude oil futures contracts fell sharply on Monday and then continued lower piercing below $86/bbl on Thursday, before recovering somewhat into week's end. When the closing bell rang, crude was at $88.27/bbl down $3.34/bbl for the week, the lowest level since last July. However, May natural gas futures powered higher to their ninth straight weekly gain. The market began under pressure, but then rallied to finish the week at $4.408/mmBtu, up $0.186/mmBtu. It was the highest close for a front month contract since June 2011. "To put in context," Greenberg said, "natural gas traded just below $2/mmBtu in April 2012."...