Published On: Wed, Mar 25th, 2009

U.S. Markets 25-Mar-09

More than 100 million pounds of ethylene traded Wednesday, and prompt prices moved higher. Propylene price ideas were steady. NGLs and energy prices were down. Resin trading was moderate and spot prices were steady.


March ethylene traded at 23.875 cpp (Texas delivery) and 24.5 cpp (Wms system). April traded at 24.125 cpp (Wms system). Most of the day’s volume traded on an ethane formula basis. March last traded Tuesday at 23.75 cpp. April last traded Monday in the 23.25-23.625 cpp range. The day ended with March bid at 23.5 cpp (Eq and Wms system) against no offers. April ethylene ended the day bid at 23.75 cpp (Eq and Wms system) and offered at 26 cpp (Eq system).


April refinery grade propylene traded at 19.5 cpp for delivery by barge. The day ended with pipeline-delivered RGP bid at 19.5 cpp for March and April against no offers. Pipeline-delivered spot RGP last traded Tuesday at 20.375 cpp and 20.5 cpp, for March delivery. Polymer grade propylene for delivery by rail was bid at 25 cpp against no offers.


In production news, Shell expects to resume operation at its GO-1 cracker in mid-to-late April. LyondellBasell will permanently close its Chocolate Bayou olefins complex by Aug 4, 2009. The plant was shut in mid-December. Eight ethylene production units are currently shut in the Gulf Coast, including two slated for decommissioning or permanent closure. A complete list of the remaining outages is attached as a separate PDF.


Energy and NGLs were lower across the board. May crude futures shed $1.21/bbl to settle at $52.77/bbl. April nat gas saw more moderate losses, down 1.8 cents to settle at $4.295/mmBtu. Ethane was down 2.625 cpg to close at 34 cpg. Propane was down 3 cpg at 71.25 cpg. Butane ended the day at 88.25 cpg, down 2.25 cpg, and iso slid nearly 6 cpg to close at 100.875 cpg. Natural gasoline lost 3 cpg to end the day at 107 cpg.


Spot resin trading was moderate Wednesday. Buyers continued to lower bids, but traders said that inventories at warehouses have slimmed down, and prices are holding steady. The deals getting done this week are smaller volumes for prompt delivery. Participants said that resin domestic demand remains poor, but that a recent uptick in ethylene prices and steady pricing in RGP this week is could lend some support to the market. Growing export demand, particularly from China, is currently providing support to the market. Generic prime railcars of HDPE blow mold and LLDPE film butene are in the low 40s cpp range. HoPP is in the mid-to-high 30s cpp range, traders said.