Crude oil prices, which hovered around US$81/barrel for much of November, momentarily peaking to a 25-month-high of almost US$88/barrel in the second week of November, bounced back up to move over US$85/barrel recently. As per Chemorbis, spot propylene prices in Asia, which lost some ground last week, rebounded, gaining US$20/ton as of the start of this week. Looking at the European market, December propylene contracts settled with a €22/ton increase from the November level at the end of last week. Given these counterbalancing factors, global PP markets appear to be ending the year on a bullish note despite a traditional slowdown in end-product businesses, as well as a downturn seen in Asia’s market sentiment since the middle of November due to expectations of China tightening its monetary policy even further. In Asia, although the Chinese government’s ongoing efforts to rein in inflation have put the market in a bearish mood and caused domestic PP prices to post continuous decreases week over week, December import PP offers continued being announced with massive increases of up to US$100/ton to the country this week. Under the influence of the bullish price trend in China, the Southeast Asian PP market also witnessed three-digit increases on initial December offers from overseas producers.
Looking at the Mediterranean, a firm December outlook is filtering through Turkey, Egypt and Italy. Following Europe’s higher propylene settlements, Italian players, who already paid increases of up to €20/ton in November, agree that sellers are likely to come with firmer initial prices in the days to come. Rumors of limited PP availability at regional producers also helped the sentiment to remain firm despite buyers’ cautious behavior. Although there were no official price announcements at the time of press, a trader had already revealed their sell idea for a Middle Eastern origin €20/ton higher for December. Due to the higher propylene settlements in Europe, along with the rising distribution market, Egyptian players expect the local producer OPC to come with higher prices this month as the producer meets some of their production needs from Europe. In Egypt, where Middle Eastern producers are the main supply sources, December import offers are yet to be revealed. However, players expect to see higher import prices on the back of higher December offers to Asia.