Spot ethylene traded in familiar territory Thursday and propylene was again quiet while energy gains dominated the day’s headlines. NGLs were up across the board, and benzene prices rose as well. Spot resins market activity was again subdued.
Ethylene traded at 23.25 cpp for April (Wms system) and on a PCW index basis. 2Q also traded on a PCW index basis. Today’s fixed price trade was the first this week, with all other transactions done on an index or formula basis. Spot last traded on an outright price basis on Friday Mar 13, at 23 cpp, 23.5 cpp and 24 cpp, all for March delivery. Spot markets ended today with March bid at 22 cpp against no offers. April was bid at 20.5 cpp and offered at 24 cpp. Index and formula-based price ideas were actively talked today, and firm bids and offers were seen out to the end of 2009.
No spot propylene deals were confirmed. The day ended with refinery grade propylene bid at 17.5 cpp and offered at 22 cpp for March pipeline delivery. RGP last traded March 13 at 20 cpp for March.
In production news, Westlake expects its Petro 1 cracker in Lake Charles to restart during the Mar 21-22 weekend or early next week. The unit has been down since Dec 17. Formosa, Shell, Sasol and Dow have restarted crackers this month. Five Gulf coast steam crackers remain shut.
Energies and NGLs were significantly higher today. April crude was up $3.47/bbl to settle at $51.61/bbl. The April contract expires Friday. May crude settled today at $52.04/bbl. April gasoline gained 7.16 cents to close at $1.4373/gal. April nat gas was up 49 cents to settle at $4.174/mmBtu. Ethane gained 1.5 cpg to close at 33.25 cpg. Propane was up 4.5 cpg to 70 cpg. Butane jumped 6 cpg to close at 86 cpg and iso gained 5 cpg to 95. Natural gasoline shot up 5.25 cpg to close at 103 cpg. Benzene also saw gains today. March ended at 138-140 cpg, bid 6 cpg higher than yesterday. April was up a few cents at 139-143 DDP cpg and 141-144 cpg, and May was also slightly higher at 143-148 cpg DDP.
Spot resins trading was slow Thursday. Sellers have lowered offers this week amid worries about poor demand. Buyers have mostly remained on the sidelines, unwilling to take on new inventories. Producers have proposed a 5-cent increase for PE prices in March, but many have expressed doubt that these will be implemented as spot ethylene and PE prices have fallen this month. For PP, several participants said they expect prices to be up roughly in line with the 1-cent increase in polymer grade propylene monomer in March.