Spot resin trading activity and prices picked up last week, after a slow start to December. Spot-trading platform The Plastics Exchange (TPE) reported that asking prices for fresh railcars were priced higher and there were fewer competitive offers made available by distributors and traders as their inventories diminished. While the actual number of spot offers increased, TPE said current supplies are well below that which was available during the past two months. Right now, it's possible that December contract prices could move in opposite directions. Polypropylene (PP) prices will slide $0.02/lb since polymer-grade propylene (PGP) contracts have initially settled down $0.02/lb. Although December price increases are rarely implemented, polyethylene (PE) producers could install some of their $0.05/lb price increase now, and if not, at least during January.
Energy markets traded lower, with natural gas markedly weaker than oil. January crude oil futures went below $100/bbl, ending the week at $99.41/bbl, with a loss of $1.55/bbl. January natural gas fell $0.267/mmBtu, a drop of more than 7%, to settle at $3.317/mmBtu last Friday. The crude oil : natural gas price ratio expanded further to a new record level of 30:1. Fully integrated North American PE producers are utilizing this great cost advantage to sustain a strong base of resin exports, according to TPE CEO Michael Greenberg....