08 May 2013 16:55 [Source: ICIS news]By Faheem Behardien
LONDON (ICIS)--The May ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) fell by 4.7% from the revised April 335.92* figure, representing a steeper fall than last month with the index now standing at an eight-month low.
All regional sub-indices of the IPEX decreased, continuing on from last month’s trend.
The Asian component of the IPEX tumbled by 5.7% on the back of a 5.6% fall in the olefins sub-index as butadiene (BD) prices continued their downward movement for the second consecutive month.
BD prices fell by nearly 20% in April and to the lowest level since November 2009. Demand is subdued as downstream markets remain weak. Other Asian chemicals reported falls apart from styrene, where prices edged up.
In the US, a 4.5% drop in the index was attributed to the olefin sub-index falling by 7%. Propylene, and also polypropylene (PP), prices both crashed as a result of higher propylene production costs and tentative PP buyers.
Europe paraxylene (PX) faces downward pressure as demand remains low. This was evident as April figures revealed a 5.5% lower aromatics index for the region despite lower production costs.
The European index fell by 2.7% after taking into account a 0.6 % weakening of the dollar. This region displayed three chemical price increases this month. In dollar terms, BD prices rose by 0.6%, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) was up by 1.5% and methanol, the highest climber of all world chemicals in the IPEX basket, increased by 6.1%.
Published at the beginning of each month, the IPEX provides an independent indicator of average change in world petrochemical prices. The IPEX product basket of 12 essential petrochemical products comprises ethylene, propylene, benzene, toluene, PX, styrene, methanol, BD, PVC, polyethylene (PE), PP and polystyrene (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.
*There has been a revision to the April IPEX from 338.44 to 335.92 following March contract settlements for ethylene and styrene in the US and for styrene and PX in Asia. This month’s index is subject to revision once the contract prices settle for ethylene, styrene and PVC in the US.
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