Aromatics sub-index drives February IPEX uptick

07 February 2012 11:11  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--The ICIS petrochemical index (IPEX) for February has recovered to 320.12, compared with the revised* January figure of 300.95, representing a 6.4% strengthening of the index.

All sub-indices of the IPEX improved, with the biggest price increases in all three regions being for aromatics, with an average of just over 10%.

The largest price increases were for benzene, with Europe having the biggest movement of around 25% in dollar terms, despite a 2.4% strengthening of the dollar against the euro.

The upward price movements were largely crude driven, as there were supply concerns connected with tensions in both Iran and Nigeria.

There was pressure for downstream sector styrene to edge up with benzene, even though demand in key end-use sectors was relatively lacklustre. Even further downstream, polystyrene (PS) prices were up, following growing positivity in key markets.

The Asian component of the IPEX saw the strongest growth again in January, firming by 8.0%, followed by the US at around 6% and Europe with around 3% growth in dollar terms.

The Asian index was boosted the most by rebounding prices for butadiene (BD), which increased by 23.3% as a result of limited spot availability because of unplanned cracker outages in India and a heavy cracker turnaround scheduled in March and April.

The weakest price increases and the most significant price drops were seen in the polymers sub-index, with an overall increase of only 1.2%. Polypropylene (PP) was the only chemical price to weaken in all three regions, following oversupply in the fourth quarter of 2011.

IPEX February 2012

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, paraxylene (PX), styrene, methanol, BD, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene (PE), PP and PS.

* The January IPEX has been revised from 300.82 to 300.95, following incorporation of the US December ethylene, styrene and PVC and Asian styrene contracts. This month’s index is also subject to revision once the US January styrene contract settles.

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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