US spot ethylene plunges 22% in 5 days; supply pressure

28 April 2010 19:33  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US ethylene spot prices remained on a steep downtrend on Wednesday, pressured by looser supply and weakening demand.

Ethylene for May was offered on Wednesday at 42.00 cents/lb ($926/tonne, €704/tonne), down by 22% from deals done at 53.00-54.75 cents/lb late in the week ended 23 April.

Ethylene for May traded on Tuesday at 47.25 cents/lb, according to ICIS pricing.

The collapse in the ethylene spot market was closely matched by significant weakness in the propylene market.

Refinery-grade propylene (RGP) for April traded last week at 39.00 cents/lb, falling by 18% from a week earlier due to looser supply.

The drop in propylene spot prices was expected to snap an uptrend on the contract side, which began in November of 2009 and has pushed prices up by 53%.

Market participants have predicted propylene contract reductions ranging from 10 to upwards of 15 cents/lb in May.

Meanwhile, ethylene contracts, which settle at the end of each month, were expected to settle between flat or possibly down by 1 cent/lb, a source said.

The monthly contract has not dropped since July 2009, when it settled 3.75 cents/lb lower at 29.75 cents/lb.

Chevron Phillips Chemical, ExxonMobil, INEOS, LyondellBasell and Shell Chemicals were among the major producers of ethylene in the US.

Dow Chemical, Georgia Gulf, Occidental Chemical (OxyChem) and Total were among the buyers.

($1 = €0.76)

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By: William Lemos
+1 713 525 2653

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