July ICIS IPEX index up 6.9% as feedstocks soar

01 July 2008 18:33  [Source: ICIS news]

Surging oil lifts IPEX valuesHOUSTON (ICIS news)--The ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) soared to 349.84 in July, up 6.9% from the June reading of 327.32, as surging oil lifted values across global chemical markets.

The July jump marks nine consecutive monthly increases, and was the biggest in percentage terms since an 11.5% jump in August 2004.

It also echoes the steep spike in the two-month period in September and October of 2005, when the IPEX rose a combined 11.2% in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the US Gulf.

The steady upward march of crude oil, which has taken benchmark prices above $140/bbl for the first time, has yanked feedstock costs higher for chemical producers.

In response to squeezed margins, producers have attempted to push through massive price hikes that have collided head-on with weakening economic conditions in the US and Europe.

The resulting forced reduction in operating rates and outright closure of some plants has exacerbated the upward push on prices by reducing supply.

The global average prices of all 12 of the IPEX components rose in July, led by a 14.8% jump in butadiene. That was propelled by a spectacular 26.6% hike in Asian values, reflecting higher crude oil and naphtha costs as well as tightness in supply of feedstock crude C4.

Styrene was another notable gainer, rising 7.2% globally as European values jumped 9.3% amid reduced operating capacity. Published at the beginning of each month, the IPEX provides an independent indicator of average change in world petrochemical prices.

Dating back to January 1993, historical ICIS prices for a basket of essential petrochemical grades in the US, Western Europe, and the northeast Asian markets have been weighted by regional nameplate capacity to generate a monthly index value.

The IPEX product basket comprises ethylene, propylene, benzene, toluene, paraxylene, styrene, methanol, butadiene, PVC, polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), and polystyrene (PS).

For more on these chemicals, visit ICIS chemical intelligence
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By: Stephen Burns
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