An €85/ton increase month on month, was witnessed in Europe for February polymer grade propylene contract that settled last week at €875/ton FD NWE, as per Chemorbis. Price hike was triggered by poor cracker margins caused by higher naphtha prices amid a reduction in supply caused by lower operating rates at fluid catalytic converters because of poor refining margins. The reduced supply situation has been exacerbated by relatively healthy demand for derivatives such as PP, ACN and oxo-alcohols. In fact, for the first time in over 2 years, the ratio of propylene to ethylene prices has returned to satisfactory levels. The increase was also reflected in stronger spot prices last week, with spot offers for polymer grade propylene gaining €35-55/ton.
In USA, February trend for propylene prices is showing signs of a firm month ahead. Several producers in the US have nominated their February propylene contracts with increases of US$110-176/ton above their January contract settlements, backed by firming spot prices as a result of limited availability. Late January shipment spot deal was concluded last week at US$1345/ton FD USG, while mainstream bid levels gained around US$70/ton when compared with the prior week. Sellers active in the spot market are feeling confident about achieving higher prices in the wake of the announced price increases for February contract business.
In Asia, the February outlook on the spot propylene market is mixed at the onset of the Chinese New Year holidays, which will result in much lower trading activities throughout the first half of the month. Although weaker pre-holiday demand from China has resulted in a slight price reduction for prompt spot materials, sellers are generally holding a bullish outlook for H2-February and beginning of March, when buyers returning from the holidays are expected to be in need of replenishing their stocks on reduced market activity expected over the next two weeks, amid tight supply outlook on numerous propylene plant shutdowns scheduled in the first quarter.