Mont Belvieu, Texas, ethane dropped to a nine-month low in the past week as bloated inventories of ethylene forced flexi-crackers to reduce operating rates.

NGL prices were down almost across the board and all margins narrowed in the five-day average.

Relief is expected in the second half of this year when a wave of new ethane cracking capacity comes online, said EnVantage Inc. Until then, a price boost will hinge on the ability of negotiators to resolve trade differences between the U.S. and China, presumably prompting China to again import U.S. polyethylene.

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