01 July 2008 18:33 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (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 ?xml:namespace>
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
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