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EU CONSUMER CONFIDENCE IMPROVES SLIGHTLY
consumer confidence

EU consumer confidence improves slightly in October versus September likely due to an ease in panic over a looming energy crisis.

The European Commission‘s indicator showed an increase of 0.6 percentage points.

The increase is encouraging but overall the indicator remains close to its record low level. This was established last month.

The war fuelling inflation has reduced consumer confidnece this year. The indicator slumped in March after the start of the war, showing mostly negative readings since then.

EU consumer confidence

Worries persist over the war and inflation which is now spreading throught the economy and beyond energy and food. However, some events have so far eased the loss in confidence.

These include: gas stock levels in Europe reaching more than 92% of capacity; proposed measures from the EU to cap price volatility; and countries enacting plans to help households with energy bills. These factors most certainly helped to ease the hightened anxiety over severe shortages and spikes in energy bills this winter.

The persistent increase in energy costs for most of this year has fueled inflation. It has also placed considerable strain on businesses and household budgets.

The polymer industry has certainly felt the impact of the higher energy costs and inflation this year. Demand has decreased considerably in all market segments. The loss of competitiveness against imports has worsened the situation. And many players along value chains are heavily reducing operating rates in line with a slump in demand.

Some of the worst hit markets include Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), Polypropylene (PP), and Nylon Engineering Resins (PA6 and PA66).

It is possible that Europe will avoid an enegy crisis and therefore confidence will continue to improve. But the unpredictability of the war make any such forecast highly unreliable.

There could be more downside surprises ahead. One of which is a cold snap drawing down gas stocks which countries will struggle to replenish next year with alternative sources of supply.

The positive reading of consumer confidence this month is certainly encouraging, but there will be little surprise if next month the indicator is back in the red.

RECYCLED PP DEMAND SUFFERS A BIGGER SLUMP
recycled plastic granules

Recycled PP demand suffers a bigger slump than virgin grades in Europe as consumers switch to cheaper products. The greater fall in demand has led to a bigger decrease in prices.

Before inflation and the war, demand for recycled polypropylene (PP) grades expericend a boom. Moreover, a period of severe scarcity of PP provided an extra boost to demand for recycled grades.

But as inflation began to squeeze household budgets, consumers apper to be switching to cheaper non-recycled alternatives.

What is more, an oversupply of virgin polymers and attractive prices also led to a negative impact on demand for recycled materials.

Price movements reflect the current trends in the past few months, namely most recycled PP prices decreased faster than virgin PP.

However, some buyers note a continuous lack of recycled PP. While this is possible, given the ongoing disruptions to supply chains, it is unlikely that it represents the entire market.

As activity continues to slow down amid a looming energy crisis, recycled PP demand will most likely continue to suffer. During a downturn in economic activity, consumers and businesses will tend to focus on their sqeezed budgets. As such it is likely that many will continue to rely more on cheaper and therefore non-recycled products.

PP PRICES PLUNGE TO NEW LOWS IN SEPTEMBER

Polypropylene (PP) prices plunge to new lows in September after posting once again triple-digit decreases, according to GC Intelligence price assessments.

Market participatns noted decreases of around €100-140/mt, with homopolymer prices reaching below €1300/mt for many buyers.

The recent slump in prices has widened the price range between accounts to as much as €500/mt.

Market feedback suggests demand is still suffering from inflation and energy prices diverting consumption away from downstream products.

Moreover, demand also slowing in other regions, such as Asia, has increased imports to Europe.

Domestic suppliers are trying to stop the continuous decreases in prices by lowering operating rates and implementing energy surcharges, according to several buyers.

But with most buyers seeing customers cancelling orders, inventoeris are reaching capacity.

While a price rebound is a probable scenario next month, it is less likely than rollovers or indeed further decreases.

EUROPEAN PP SPOT PRICES POSTED BIG DECREASES

European PP spot prices posted big decreases in August versus July, according to the latest assessments by GC Intelligence.

In August prices decreased by €190/mt.

Several factors were contributing to the ongoing decreases in polypropylene (PP) prices in Europe.

First, the fall was related to the slowing demand due to the negative impact of energy prices on consumption.

Second, seasonal slowdowns were made worse by buyers waiting amid falling prices to get a better picture in September.

What is more, competitive imports and especially lower exports because of the firm prices in Europe weaked fundamentals further.

Europe’s loss of competitiveness along the entire value chain because of rising energy costs continued to get worse.

With the war continuing and an energy crisis and recession looming in Europe, downside pressure should persist into next year.

EU CONSUMER CONFIDENCE REACHES RECORD LOW

EU consumer confidence reaches the lowest ever recorded level in July, according to the latest data from the European Commission.

The new numbers show a decrease of 3 percentage points for the EU and 3.2 percentage points for the Euro Area.

The new levels surpass the lowest point reached during the beginning of the pandemic, raising fears of a major economic contraction.

The polymer industry has been feeling a considerable pressure on demand which is to do with a multitude of reasons.

But this latest reading reinforces the view that consumer jitters over inflation, war, and a looming energy crisis are additional major factors slowing down demand for polymers.

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