Europe sub-index leads September IPEX uptick

06 September 2011 16:26  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--The ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) has rebounded, with the September index rising to 366.06, its highest since June. This represents a 1.1% strengthening of the IPEX from its revised* August figure of 362.14.

The firmer IPEX was the result of a strengthening of most chemical prices, particularly in Europe and Asia. Globally, more than half of the products saw price increases in dollar terms.

Western Europe led the IPEX growth, with a 2.0% rise in dollar terms in its component index for the month, with the dollar remaining relatively flat.

European benzene prices surged by around 17%, the largest price hike of all 36 IPEX basket products. This was because the benzene market was tight, despite lower demand, as no imports were scheduled into Europe in August, there were several shutdowns in southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, and some plants were running at lower operating rates.

The Asian component of the index rose by 1.0%, reflecting firmer Asian chemical prices. Benzene and butadiene (BD) were the only two products to record a decline, holding back the growth of the Asian component. BD plummeted significantly from its July all-time highs by an average of $310/tonne (€220/tonne) or 7.6%, as a result of sufficient domestic supply and competitive local prices in China, and cracker restarts in Taiwan.

The US index component saw only a slight increase, of 0.5%.

Paraxylene (PX) prices improved in all three regions, by around 10%. The price increases were the result of unplanned outages and rising crude oil futures in Asia, which led to a growing threat of PX shortages. European and US markets have also been driven by rising Asian prices.

Polystyrene (PS) prices also saw increases in all regions. These were based on higher feedstock benzene costs.

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 12 essential petrochemical products in the US, western Europe and 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, PX, styrene, methanol, BD, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and PS.

The August IPEX has been revised from 361.69 to 362.14, following incorporation of the US July styrene and PVC and the Asian styrene contracts. This month’s index is also subject to revision once the US August styrene and PVC contracts settle.

September IPEX

*As of July 2010, the index has been revised retrospectively to replace latest available contract prices at the time of publication that had previously been used in the data series with actual settled contract prices. This has had the effect of moving the derived IPEX index from an estimated status to an actual status.

The revised historical IPEX data is available from ICIS on request
Click here for a full methodology of the revised IPEX

($1 = €0.71)

Author: Alexandra Sukanegara

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ICIS Global Petrochemical Index (IPEX)
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