Aromatics price increases in US and Asia help lift November IPEX

16 November 2012 09:28  [Source: ICB]

The November ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) climbed by 0.4% compared with the previous month, lifted by higher aromatics prices in the US and Asia.

The IPEX reached 325.97, its highest level since June, from the revised* October figure of 324.69. The US IPEX component rose by 1.0% to 292.5, driven by a 2.4% rise in the aromatics sub-index. The olefins sub-index rose by 0.2% and the polymer sub-index was 0.6% higher.

For aromatics in the US, the increases were driven by higher prices for benzene and toluene. The October benzene contract price settled up 20 cents/gal from the previous month on the back of tight supplies during September.

The November benzene contract settled at an all-time high, up by 50 cents/gal, and some sources have suggested that US benzene prices could break seasonal trends and remain high through the rest of the year.

For the US IPEX olefins sub-index, higher propylene prices outweighed lower ethylene prices. October US ethylene contracts declined by 2.1%, mainly as a result of falling spot prices in the first half of the month.

The European IPEX component was approximately flat at 383.18, helped slightly by a 0.3% weakening of the dollar. The olefins sub-index fell by 0.8% and the polymers sub-index sank by 1.3%. The aromatics sub-index grew by 0.1%, lifted by a strong hike in toluene prices.

The Asian IPEX component increased by 0.3% to 320.36, as higher aromatics prices outweighed declines in olefins and polymer prices. The aromatics sub-index rose by 3.7% but the olefins sub-index fell by 1.5% on a strong fall in butadiene (BD) prices. The polymer sub-index was 1.2% lower.

Published at the beginning of each month, the IPEX provides an independent indicator of average change in world petrochemical prices. The IPEX basket comprises ethylene, propylene, benzene, toluene, paraxylene (PX), styrene, methanol, BD, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and polystyrene (PS).

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 October IPEX has been ­revised from 323.23 to 324.69, ­following settlement of the September contracts for ethylene, ­styrene and PVC in the US and for styrene in Asia. This month's index is also subject to revision once October US styrene and PVC contract prices settle.

By: Anna Jagger
+44 20 8652 3214

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