Apart from a few railcars hanging around that required shipment before month-end, producer offers fell silent last week, which straddled the end of November and start of December. Spot-trading platform, The Plastics Exchange (TPE) noted that distributors and Houston resellers seem to have liquidated a large amount of their inventories over the past couple of months and have subsequently become less aggressive, with total spot offers dropping to their lowest level in several months. The Chinese government eased banking restrictions, loosening credit to aid manufacturing, but a subsequent spike in export resin demand has not yet been seen. While resin price increases are rarely implemented during December, producers are again hopeful, noted TPE CEO Michael Greenberg.
Energy markets were mixed again, reversing the previous week's results. January crude oil moved higher, adding $4.19/bbl to end the week at $100.96/bbl. January natural gas futures gave back about half of last week's gains, shedding $0.081/mmBtu to settle at $3.584/mmBtu on Friday. The crude oil : natural gas price ratio expanded back out to 28.1:1, a record weekly close. Fully integrated North American PE producers have a "tremendous cost advantage versus their international counterparts", according to TPE, with most overseas producers primarily deriving their ethylene feedstocks from the cost-disadvantaged crude oil chain....