Polypropylene (PP) Prices and Pricing Information

06 November 2007 13:40 Source:ICIS

Updated to mid-August 2011


Asian market review by Bee Lin Chow, ICIS pricing


Polypropylene (PP) prices in Asia fell persistently in June because most end users and distributors bought on a hand-to mouth basis in fear that prices would fall amid weak demand.


Concerns of further credit tightening measures in China dampened buying interest for petrochemical raw materials in China, and bearish buyer sentiment spilled over to southeast Asian market.


Asia’s PP prices rebounded in the first week of July after a seven-week downward spiral, as buyers started restocking on supply concerns.


China’s domestic availability was expected to be reduced in July and August because of scheduled maintenance at several local plants. Stronger crude futures also supported the PP markets in Asia in early July.


However, fears of a double-dip recession triggered a downward correction in PP prices in mid-August. The average weekly prices of injection and yarn grade PP, isotactic PP and biaxially oriented PP prices fell by 0.3–5.7% to $1,560–1,595/tonne CFR (cost & freight) China and $1,645–1,670/tonne CFR SE Asia (southeast Asia) in mid-August, from mid-May’s $1,640–1,690/tonne CFR China and $1,730–1,765/tonne CFR SE Asia, respectively.


China market review by Amy Yu, ICIS pricing


Domestic polypropylene (PP) yarn prices dropped to yuan (CNY) 11,550-11,900/tonne at the end of June, hit their lowest level in early July, then rose to CNY12,550-12,900/tonne in early August. Prices fell to CNY12,200-12,500/tonne in mid-August because of sluggish transactions.


Downstream users suffered from fund pressures as a result of the Chinese government’s tight monetary policy. This, together with end-users’ lower operating rates caused by a power shortage in coastal areas, led to falling PP yarn prices, with values reached their lowest level in late June.


Domestic supply decreased in July as many units were undergoing maintenance. Petrochemical giants’ sales branches lifted their ex-works (EXW) prices. This prompted optimism among participants about the outlook, and values rose sharply until early August.


However, when crude oil prices plunged in early August, participants retreated to the sidelines. Transactions decreased and prices progressively softened until mid-August.


European market review by Stephanie Wilson, ICIS pricing


Falling upstream propylene values, a wide gap between contract and spot values and hesitant buying interest enabled European polypropylene (PP) buyers to secure reductions of €190-210/tonne in the domestic market between mid-May and mid-August.


Expectations of lower future prices drove consumers to the sidelines of the market. This, coupled with firm cracker margins, which made integrated producers reluctant to cut operating rates for much of May-July, created abundant supply.


This was compounded by a surge of aggressively priced imported material, mostly originating from the Middle East, which forced spot prices down by €180-270/tonne over the period. Homopolymer raffia PP registered the largest losses of €250-270/tonne on the back of cheaper imports.


US market review by Michelle Klump, ICIS pricing


In the period from mid-May to mid-August, US polypropylene (PP) prices saw large swings along with the price of propylene, ultimately ending with a net decrease of 10 cents/lb ($220/tonne) over the three-month period.


In all cases, PP prices followed monomer pricing, with a 9 cent/lb increase in May, followed by a 15 cent/lb decrease in June and a 4 cent/lb decrease in July.


High prices, particularly compared with low Asia and Middle East prices, contributed to weak demand, and had some buyers considering importing material from Asia.


The US export market was virtually non-existent throughout the period. However, as Asian prices began to rise in July, some interest picked up in the Latin American markets.


By August, sources were expecting between a rollover to an increase of 2 cents/lb, with market participants predicting small price fluctuations for the balance of the year.


Latin American market review by George Martin, ICIS pricing


The May-August period featured a soft and gradual decline in polypropylene (PP) prices. Currency fluctuations injected some volatility into otherwise steadily declining prices.


Values followed crude oil prices, which came down from levels above $112/bbl to the low $80s/bbl in early August. The steep decline that started at the end of July had yet to be reflected in PP prices.


In Mexico, PP values started to rise again in August, following higher propylene settlements, but the global downturn evidenced in August is offering a pessimistic price outlook.


In South America, the fall in PP values was moderate in most countries, but it was expected that prices could slide faster if crude values remained down.


In Argentina, the government has allowed limited price increases. There were initiatives for a small increase in August, which were not expected to materialise if crude values continued to plummet.


Prices in Colombia follow feedstock propylene trends closely. The decline in the May-August period was gradual.


Venezuelan PP prices were steady during this quarter. But it was thought that imports entering the country might produce a sharp increase in the short term.