US Markets on Friday 21/03/09
Ethylene and propylene price ideas were steady Friday and no trades were confirmed. Spot resin trading was mostly quiet and NGLs traded higher.
The day ended with March ethylene bid at 22 cpp (Choctaw system) against no offers. April was bid at 20.5 cpp (Eq and Wms system) and offered at 23.75 cpp (Wms system). The last fixed-price deal was done Thursday at 23.25 cpp for April (Wms system). Index and formula-based bids and offers were also seen Friday, as they have been most of the week, for ethylene stretching out through the end of the year. More than 55 million pounds traded on the PCW index this week. There was also an April formula-based deal done Thursday.
Refinery grade propylene ended the day bid at 17.5 cpp and offered at 22 cpp for March pipeline delivery. The last RGP deal was done March 13 at 20 cpp for March pipeline delivery. No spot markets were seen for polymer or chemical grade propylene.
In production news, Westlake plans to restart its Petro 1 cracker in Lake Charles this weekend or early next week. The cracker was shut Dec 17 for maintenance. This will be the fourth cracker to resume operation this month. Sasol, Shell, Dow and Formosa have all restarted crackers in March.
Energies were mixed and NGLs traded higher. April crude oil was down 55 cents at $51.06/bbl. Natural gas rose 5 cents to end at $4.227/mmBtu. Ethane gained a penny ending at 34.25 cpg. Propane was up 2 cents at 72 cpg. Butane was 1 cent higher at 87 cpg. Iso rose 3 cents to end the day at 98 cpg. Natural gasoline was up 1.5 cents at 104.5 cpg. March benzene rose 2 cents to end at 140-142 cpg DDP/FOB. April finished at 142-144 cpg DDP and 143-145 cpg FOB. May was 144-148 cpg DDP.
In the resin market, there was a flurry of small volume resin transactions Friday. Traders have continued efforts to shed inventory, while buyers remain reluctant to take on more material at today’s prices. Processors have mostly stayed on the sidelines, but some have come to the spot secondary market for limited volumes as they can get prices a few cents below February levels for PE and PP.
Contracts for PE have not been finalized for March. Producers were seeking a 5-cent increase for PE, but some have contended that implementation is unlikely this month. For PP, several participants reported that although the spot market is weak, they are seeing an increase in contract prices roughly in line with the 1-cent increase in March propylene monomer. The export market is becoming a bit more active with transactions seen to Mexico, South America and China.