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Petrochemical markets are mostly calm at the start of the New Year. Ethylene spot prices have drifted down 3 cts/lb in the past month, due to some production glitches at downstream plants. One producer has nominated a 2-cts/Ib increase in January contracts, citing continued tight supply-demand conditions. Propylene contract prices rose 3.5 cts/lb in December, to 42 cts-43.5 cts/lb del, following a 4-cts/lb increase for November. Butadiene prices gained another penny in December, to 38 cts/lb del, amid tight supply.
Several European market players have settled first-quarter ethylene contracts at 740 [euro]/m.t. del, 40 [euro]/m.t. above fourth-quarter levels. Propylene contracts for the first quarter have been established at 685 [euro]/m.t, del, up 65 [euro]/m.t. despite some buyer's calls for a smaller increase.
U.S. aromatics prices started the year higher, following sharp declines in late 2004 as traders …