Trade sources said US ethylene prices were falling heading into this week. After establishing a 22-month high at 29 cents/lb last week, prices ended Friday at 27.50 cents/lb. November remains backwardated heading into this week as trade participants still await new capacity startups.
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September polyethylene contracts will be finalized this week. While some trade sources were in the process of settling contracts for September, most trade participants have said September was up by 3 cents/lb. Moreover, producers have lowered their October price increase targets from 8 cents/lb to 4 cents/lb. US polypropylene market participants remained dubious on export opportunities for US producers due to elevated prices. Demand remained a long-term concern but there was talk that the market could experience a modest rebound starting this week following a lengthy stretch of inactivity.
Brazilian polyethylene and polypropylene markets are expected to be normalized in the beginning of October after the instability oil and petrochemical markets saw in the wake of attacks on Saudi oil complexes in mid-September. Over the past weeks, PE prices have been unchanged due to the market instability, while PP prices have been more volatile in the market. Currency exchange has started the week with more volatility at Real 4.06/$1 compared to Real 4.16/$1 a week ago, putting more pressure on domestic prices and opening room for changes in the local market. On the West Coast of South America, spot import PE prices were stable last week, while PP prices saw more volatility in the past weeks. Most PE prices continued to be at their lowest level since S&P Global Platts began assessing the WCSA PE and PP market in June 2010. As most PE products come from the US, prices may not be much affected, while PP imports in the region come from the Middle East and Asia and could continue to see more volatility during the week.
US export polyvinyl chloride prices were expected to remain in the settled October range of $740-$750/mt FAS Houston this week, though market participants expect international customers to keep pushing for lower levels amid continued sluggish demand. Sources said buyers were seeking prices as low as $725/mt on an FAS basis, but producers resisted bids ranging from $730-$735/mt FAS Houston during October pricing talks. Producers usually conclude business when such talks are settled early each month, but there are times when producers have incremental volumes available throughout the month. At least one producer was heard offering incremental volumes at $750/mt FAS Houston after October talks settled last week. The domestic PVC market also continued to mull a 3-cent/lb increase for October, though market sources were skeptical that it would be accepted in full. "I give them a penny," one source said of a portion that could be accepted.
Activity in the US aromatics sector is expected to be thin for much of this week, with many trade participants out of the market due to an industry function in Europe. However, trade sources have said the US benzene market was still looking at imports with some producers at reduced rates.
-- Edited by Pankti Mehta, firstname.lastname@example.org