Americas feedstocks and polymers weekly summary

Source: ICIS News

2019/01/11

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Here is a summary of major markets in Americas for the week ended 11 January.

UPSTREAM

Crude: Futures finished down on a pre-weekend correction to overbought conditions following nine consecutive up sessions. The selling was also encouraged by a slide in the stock market and by lack of concrete progress in recent US/China talks.

Ethane: Prices were assessed lower for the week, with more sellers than buyers in the front month. January barrels traded as low as 27.25 cents/gal midweek, but spot prices had increased by Friday.

Propane: Spot prices were assessed higher, tracking stronger crude and a cut in domestic inventories.

OLEFINS

Ethylene: Spot prices narrowed with a slightly lower midpoint than the prior week, amid a decline in upstream ethane costs. New capacity also weighed on sentiment amid recent and anticipated cracker start-ups. US December ethylene contract prices had settled flat as production curtailments and increased consumption led to a more balanced market in late 2018.

Propylene: Spot prices were steady, as good production has offset rebounding demand and higher upstream costs. January contract prices are under pressure as inventory levels, which were at multi-year highs in late 2018, continued to climb in early 2019. Contract discussions are expected to begin next week.

Butadiene (BD): January contracts are flat to lower amid ample supply of feedstock crude C4 (CC4) and seasonally lower demand, with support from declining crude prices over the fourth quarter. Spot prices remain steady, as activity has been limited.

AROMATICS

Benzene: Spot prices rose following several consecutive weeks of plunging prices, supported by higher crude oil futures and improved liquidity.

Styrene: Spot prices firmed this week on the back of higher benzene spot prices and upcoming planned turnarounds. The first turnaround will start in late January at a Louisiana styrene plant; one line at the plant is scheduled to be down 45 days.

POLYMERS

Polyethylene (PE): Supply is sufficient as most plants continue to run at normal rates and buyers are able to secure cargoes. Margins have tightened as the gas-based feedstocks have not fallen by the same amount as crude oil in recent weeks.

Polypropylene (PP): Export activities have resumed and imports have slowed, as large declines in domestic prices have brought US prices closer into line with global market averages. Supply is comfortable.

Polystyrene (PS): Prices are facing a decrease in January amid continued weakness in key upstream markets – especially benzene. January PS price decreases of 2 cents/lb are going into effect, following price decreases of 7 cents/lb in December.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC): The market showed some signs of firming prices as spot export prices rose slightly and producers separately proposed 4 cent/lb contract price increases aimed at February.