IPEX tumbles for sixth consecutive month in December

07 December 2011 10:48  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--The ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) has continued to fall and has reached its lowest value since January 2011. The index has dropped to 300.94 in December, a 6.0% decline from its revised* November figure of 320.06.

The IPEX weakened in all regions, with western Europe the hardest hit, falling by 6.4% in dollar terms, accentuated by a 2.0% strengthening of the dollar against the euro over the same period. The US decline was not far behind, down by 6.1%, while Asia contracted by 5.7%.

The olefins sub-index retracted by 5.8% – propylene was the worst hit, weakening by around 6–7% in all regions following a lengthening of propylene markets on weak demand. Falls in propylene prices had a knock-on effect on polypropylene (PP) prices, which retreated by around 8% in the US and almost 6% in Europe.

Butadiene (BD) prices again fell significantly, with Asia leading the price drop after plummeting by 24%. The US fell by 17.9% and Europe by 13.7% in dollar terms. Weak buying demand from downstream users was the main impetus behind the large downward price movements. However, BD prices in Asia stabilised towards the end of the month, as production rates for downstream synthetic rubber and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) began to recover.

The largest price rises were observed for US ethylene, up by 1.9%, and for Asian toluene, which was also up by 1.9%. Toluene demand for paraxylene (PX) production in combination with the gasoline blending sectors was robust in Asia, giving some support for prices.

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 polystyrene (PS).

December IPEX

* The November IPEX has been revised from 323.79 to 320.06, following incorporation of the US October ethylene, styrene and PVC and Asian styrene and PX contracts. This month’s index is also subject to revision once the US November styrene and PVC and Asian styrene contracts settle.

The revised historical IPEX data is available from ICIS on request

Click here for a full methodology of the revised IPEX

Author: Afsar Hussain

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ICIS Global Petrochemical Index (IPEX)
ICIS Global Petrochemical Index (IPEX). Download the free tabular data and a chart of the historical index

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