Spot propylene prices moved higher in Europe over the past week in line with firmer spot naphtha prices, while slow demand pulled down spot prices in the Asian market. Spot propylene prices were steady in the US on year end muted trading activity. In Europe, spot propylene prices moved higher this week in line with stronger naphtha feedstock costs and higher settlement for January contract, as the rise in spot prices closely tracked increase seen in the contract level. Producers are seeking larger increases in a bid to restore their operating margins following the recent up-ticks in spot naphtha, although converters countered that demand is still too slow to absorb any larger increases for the moment. Some buyers expressed concern that supply may tighten further in the coming weeks given several production problems within the region along with lower operating rates at many crackers. Believing that tighter availability would push up prices after the start of the New Year, several sellers were said to have withdrawn offers until after the New Year holidays in anticipation of healthier demand in January.
In Asia, spot propylene prices dipped this past week on slow demand as buyers and sellers remained far apart in their price ideas. Trading activity was described as very limited in the last week of the year, with sources adding that poor demand for PP and other propylene derivatives has also weighed down on buying interest. A few sellers offering to Southeast Asia believe that the market has almost bottomed, especially as demand is relatively stronger in Southeast Asia when compared with Northeast Asia. Sellers also pointed to stronger energy costs as another factor limiting the scope of any possible decreases. In the US, spot propylene prices were mostly unchanged over the past week. Demand was said to be sluggish in the last few trading days of the year while ample supplies also kept prices from moving higher. Sellers commented that they were unwilling to lower their prices for now as a number of scheduled shutdowns within the country in January could lead to tighter propylene supply and higher spot prices.