Polymer Market Update, October 22, 2007

The commodity resin markets were very strong this past week, supported by soaring energy and feedstock prices. Polyethylene producers have now essentially secured their October $.04/lb price increase and Polypropylene producers will achieved on average a $.03/lb price increase for October resin contracts. Crude Oil prices continued to climb into record territory, briefly breaking though the $90/bbl threshold, before sliding back almost $1.50/bbl during Friday's session. Still, the market closed at $88.60/bbl on Friday, up about $5/bbl for the week. Natural Gas futures spent the entire week on higher ground, at one point up about $.65/mmBtu. The market then gave back most of the gains late in the week, and the November contract settled at $7.04/mmBtu up about $.07/mmBtu. Monomer inventories have been too snugly supplied to absorb the supply disruptions that continue to plague the sector. Fresh refinery and pipeline complications sent spot monomer prices higher again this week. Spot RGP rallied a huge $.045/lb to trade at $.5525/lb on Friday, as refiners and splitters facing supply shortages chased spot material. PGP also traded higher to $.565/lb, but those margins, which can often run at $.04/lb, have clearly been compressed. Spot Ethylene prices remained firm, trading above $.53/lb this week; however, previously offline crackers are returning on-stream and have begun producing on-spec monomer. This, at least for the time being, has put a cap on that market and might potentially send it back lower, sans new disruptions. To keep up with still rising feedstock costs, Polyethylene producers have backed the next nickel increase with yet another $.06/lb increase nominated for Nov 15th. Polypropylene producers, anticipating another jump in their feedstock contracts, have nominated an additional price increase ranging between $.04 -.06/lb for November resin contracts. The resin markets have taken an undeniable bullish tone. October price increases are being enforced and fresh November increases are right around the corner. The market must see a resolution of feedstock supply disruptions in order to simmer down, for now we are going higher. (The Plastics Exchange)
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