Spot prices were relatively stable and traded volumes were good as market participants squared up month-end positions to finish July and prepared for a viable price increase initiative in August. Spot-trading platform, The Plastics Exchange (TPE), noted that polyethylene contracts dropped $0.03-$0.04/lb in July, just as they had done in June. Depending on grade and producer, most contract buyers received a total of $0.06-$0.07/lb of price relief. July polypropylene contracts slid $0.04/lb along with the change in polymer grade propylene (PGP), for a total drop of $0.19/lb during June/July. While contract PE/PP prices moved lower, spot prices for the active commodity grade resins actually rallied during July, closing much of the large discount that built during the second quarter.
Energy prices moved lower last week, as September crude oil futures backed away from the $100/bbl level, dropping $4.17/bbl to settle at $95.70/bbl on Friday. September natural gas prices continued to erode, shedding another $0.225/mmBtu to end the week at $4.145/mmBtu. The crude oil : natural gas price ratio currently sits at around 23:1, providing what TPE called a "healthy" cost advantage to integrated North American petrochemical producers that primarily derive their feedstocks from the natural gas stream....