Price and market trends: July IPEX falls 0.1% despite Europe gains

12 July 2013 09:33  [Source: ICB]

Overall index decreases by 0.1% as US and Asia declines outweigh improvement in Europe

Rebounding European prices combined with the weaker dollar have eased the recent decline of the ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX).

Despite a 1.5% boost to the Europe sub index, there was a 0.1% fall of the July IPEX compared with the revised June 318.15* figure. Improvements in Europe were outweighed by a 0.6% slip of the US and northeast Asian sub-indices.

World butadiene (BD) and toluene figures were the biggest losers, with northeast Asia suffering a 12.9% fall in BD prices and US toluene prices down by 7.5%. Northeast Asian BD prices slumped as a result of surplus stocks and further weakness in demand for downstream industries.

US toluene spot prices hit a yearly low in June on weak demand, which was partly caused by Asia exports into the US.

In contrast, global propylene and polypropylene (PP) prices have improved. Asian propylene prices rose by 4.5%, as values hit a 15-week high during the month, due to tight supply in the region as scheduled cracker turnarounds commenced.

US propylene production fell by 9.0% month on month in May, which was reflected in the higher propylene prices in the month that followed.

The explosion at the Williams cracker, which caused two fatalities, further contributed to the lower propylene production and was felt further downstream by PP producers which struggled to obtain supply. US PP prices climbed by 3.3% due to strong demand in May and June.

A 4.6% increase in European polyethylene (PE) dollar-denominated prices stood out in the 12 petrochemical IPEX product basket. PE production within the region has been cut back over the past few months on lower demand.

With the hope of lower prices in May, buyers came back to the market resulting in a tightening of PE supply which continued in June.

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, paraxylene (PX), styrene, methanol, BD, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), 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 slight revision to the June IPEX from 318.17 to 318.15 following May contract settlements for styrene and PVC in the US and styrene in Asia.

The May and June indexes will be subject to further revision once the April and May ethylene contracts settle in the US.

By: Faheem Behardien
+44 208 652 3214

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