Price and market trends: US olefins drive up January IPEX

15 February 2013 09:49  [Source: ICB]

Global chemical prices rose by approximately 3.7% in January 2013 compared with December 2012, driven by a strengthening of olefins and polymers prices in the US, according to the February ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX).

IPEXThe IPEX, which tracks changes in global prices in dollar terms for a basket of 12 petrochemical products, reached 340.88 for February from a revised January figure of 328.78.*

US olefins prices soared by nearly 16% in January, boosted by a sharp rise in propylene prices compared with December. Propylene prices have risen in recent weeks on firm demand and tight supplies after a spree of plant outages, and the upward trend is expected to continue this month.

Rising propylene prices led to a firming of US polypropylene (PP) prices, contributing to an 8.5% hike in polymers prices in the country, according to IPEX data. US prices also increased for polyethylene (PE) and polystyrene (PS) but polyvinyl chloride (PVC) prices remained flat.

Overall, the US component of the IPEX increased by 5.7%, as aromatics prices grew by only 1.9%.


In Europe, chemicals prices rose by 2.6% in January after taking into account a 1.4% weakening of the dollar. Prices rose mainly on a 6.1% increase in aromatics prices which were lifted by higher benzene, styrene and paraxylene (PX) values. Polymer prices grew by 2.9%, helped by a sharp rise in polystyrene (PS) prices, while olefins prices were 0.6% higher.

In Asia, prices rose by 3.2% on a 4.8% increase for olefins, a 3.1% increase for polymers and a 0.8% rise for aromatics. Olefins prices were lifted by a continued strengthening of butadiene (BD) prices.

Published at the beginning of each month, the IPEX provides an independent indicator of average change in world petrochemical prices. The IPEX basket of essential petrochemical products comprises ethylene, propylene, benzene, toluene, PX, styrene, methanol, BD, PVC, PE, PP and PS.

Dating back to January 1993, historical ICIS prices for these products in the US, western Europe and northeast Asian markets have been weighted by regional nameplate capacity to generate the monthly index value.

*The January IPEX has been revised from 328.68 to 328.78 following settlement of the December contract price for styrene in the US. This month's index is also subject to revision once the January US styrene contract price settles.

By: Anna Jagger
+44 20 8652 3214

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