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  Past Reports
Weekly Market Update
ThePlasticsExchange.com
Market Update
February 27, 2015

Summary

Spot resin trading was solid with steady interest from both buyers and sellers; however, the flow of fresh railcars was a bit slower into month-end. Most commodity grades of Polyethylene are accessible in packages for prompt shipment; spot Polypropylene availability at sharp market prices is spotty, but material for immediate shipment can generally be found at a premium. Average prices for both Polyethylene and Polypropylene were about steady, although we have seen continued consolidation in PE as the low-end of the market his lifted and relatively high priced offers are barely considered. Export interest is best for Latin America; US material is essentially uncompetitive to other international regions. Polypropylene imports are interesting as high prices and limited availability in the US has created opportunities.

The major energy markets were once again mixed; US prices dropped while Brent was higher. April WTI Crude Oil was lower most of the week; the losses were trimmed with Friday’s rally, but still ended the week at $49.76/bbl, down $1.05/bbl. April Brent Crude Oil closed the week near the highs at $62.58/bbl; it was a $2.53/bbl gain. The WTI-Brent spread is the widest in more than a year and is truly significant given this price level. April Natural Gas futures reached above $3/mmBtu, the highest in 6 weeks, but then collapsed from there finally settling the week at $2.738/mmBtu, a large $.238/mmBtu loss. Spot Ethane jumped another $.015/gal to $.21/gal ($.089/lb), but still several cents off the week’s high. Spot Propane gained more than $.02/gal to end near $.62/gal ($.176/lb).

Spot Ethylene trading was active, but more month-to-month spread trading was seen than outright purchases. About 10% of the Gulf’s cracking capacity remains offline for maintenance. There are several more crackers slated for turnaround in the coming months. Ethylene for February changed hands at $.35/lb which was up a half-cent before rolling to March. Subsequently, a number of March transactions took place, most recently at $.345/lb, about steady for the week. Ethylene in Louisiana traded at $.46/lb, the premium is due to the closed Evangeline Pipeline which is continually restricting material flow to LA. The Ethylene forward curve is flat through the 3rd quarter and then tails off a half-cent towards the end of 2015.

Spot Polyethylene trading was a bit better than average and prices held firm, building on the general stability seen over the past few weeks. HDPE resins are still readily available, but we are starting to see some tightness in Prime LDPE and LLDPE film grades; offgrade remains ever-plentiful. Polyethylene contracts decreased $.05/lb in February, bringing the total 4 month relief to $.16/lb. Houston export prices have firmed along with the International market, so the huge gap that had existed between export and domestic PE prices has closed significantly. A couple of PE producers have nominated $.04-.05/lb price increases for mid-March and April. While these nominations do lend support to the market, it is not yet ready to bounce back at this point.

Spot Propylene was only lightly traded, but the market still weighed heavily as suppliers sought elusive buyers. February PGP transacted at $.485/lb, down a half-cent. It was then offered down to $.47/lb, with March indicated a little lower still. Feb contracts were up a penny to $.505/lb, while not much, it was enough to stop the previous 3-month slide that saw PGP prices erode $.27/lb. Producers are looking to capitalize on the fledgling upside momentum by nominating another $.015/lb increase for March; however spot conditions do not currently support the endeavor. The forward market remains backwardated, with slightly lower prices offered each month until Dec reaches a $.02/lb discount to prompt. RGP traded narrowly on both sides of $.40/lb.

The Polypropylene market was lightly traded, prices held steady at levels $.05/lb above the low price of this cycle which occurred at the end of January. Lyondell Basell declared Force Majeure on certain Polypropylene products due to a production disruption; they join three other producers facing similar supply issues. Tight resin supplies have contributed to PP producers’ success in achieving margin expansion over the past couple months, including February, when contracts saw a small boost, averaging $.02/lb, representing a $.01/lb gain beyond the increase in monomer costs. Additional price increases are on the horizon, and while spot supplies remain tight, PP pricing is starting to run into resistance. Some processors with tolerant applications are exploring a switch to Polyethylene while others are integrating a small amount of imported Polypropylene, lightly available at competitive prices.

Spot resin trading was very active during February and a high volume of material changed hands. Polypropylene prices recovered about a nickel during the month and held steady this past week. Contracts were up about a deuce and are nominated to increase again in March; tight supplies support further advancement, weak PGP monomer is pulling in the opposite direction. Polyethylene contracts wiped away $.05/lb during Feb, spot prices which had already fallen were about flat on average; producers are looking to stem the slide in March. North American resin prices remain at or above international levels, so exports remain a challenge, some are counting on a resurgence of Asian demand.

Total Offers 20,032,360 lbs Spot Contract
ResinTotal lbsLowHighBidOffer
HDPE - Blow Mold3,822,808$.540$.635$.550$.590
LDPE - Film3,528,208$.550$.670$.600$.640
HDPE - Inj2,540,508$.555$.630$.580$.620
HMWPE - Film2,498,600$.555$.610$.590$.630
PP Homo2,174,140$.670$.740$.670$.710
LLDPE - Film2,055,496$.565$.645$.570$.610
LLDPE - Inj1,289,104$.540$.640$.620$.660
PP Copo1,073,656$.715$.760$.690$.730
LDPE - Inj1,049,840$.620$.735$.640$.680
 
 
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