August IPEX slides as a result of lower butadiene prices

07 August 2013 09:00  [Source: ICIS news]

By Ciaran Healy

Fall in pricesLONDON (ICIS)--Significant falls in the majority of European and global butadiene (BD) prices contributed to a 2.0% fall in this month’s ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) to 312.42 from the revised July figure of 317.68*.

Affected by the 0.8% stronger dollar, the European sub index dropped by 3.1%, as prices fell in dollar terms for all but two products in that region. BD prices fell by an average of nearly $290/tonne (€218/tonne) across the three regions.

The US and Asian regional indexes suffered smaller declines than Europe, with 1.7% and 1.6% falls, respectively.

Global BD figures saw the sharpest drop of any product this month with the biggest falls in Europe and Asia, where prices fell by 21% and 27% in dollar terms during July (US prices were down by only 11%).

Persistently weak downstream demand, primarily related to tyre markets, drove prices to three-year lows in Europe and four-year lows in Asia. Ethylene and propylene prices presented a more balanced picture than BD, falling in Europe and rising in Asia. Overall, the contribution of olefins to the index saw a 1.1% fall this month.

Benzene prices also saw sharp falls in the US and Europe, losing between 7 and 8% in dollar terms in each of these areas, on the back of poor derivatives demand. The picture for toluene was more variable, with prices down by 7.8% in dollar terms in Europe but edging up elsewhere. The contribution of aromatics to the index fell by 1.6%.

The one significant improvement in Europe was polyethylene (PE), which also rose strongly in Asia. July was a relatively good month for polymer prices, their index seeing a 0.8% rise.

In Asia, the prices of all four polymers included in the IPEX product basket rose, including a 2.2% rise in the price of PE making it the month’s strongest performer. Results were more mixed for the US and Europe.

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, polypropylene (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.

August IPEX

*There have been revisions to: the July IPEX from 317.75 to 317.68; the June IPEX from 318.17 to 317.95; and the May IPEX from 320.24 to 319.98. These follow the triple-settlement of US ethylene contracts (for April, May and June) and the settlements of June PE, styrene and PVC contracts in the US and styrene in Asia. The August index will be subject to further revision once July contract prices settle for ethylene, PX, PE , styrene and PVC in the US and styrene in Asia.

($1 = €0.75)

Click here for regular chemical updates and to download global and regional ICIS IPEX data
View the full IPEX methodology here

Author: Ciaran Healy

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