Price and market trends: ICIS Petrochemical Index rises in October

11 October 2013 10:00  [Source: ICB]

A month of steady increases in chemical prices pushed the ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) up by 3.0% in October, from a revised September figure of 318.29*.

Of the three regions, Europe saw the strongest performance with the price of every one of the 12 products included in the IPEX product basket rising in dollar terms. These increases were boosted by a slight weakening of the dollar.

The regional sub-index rose by 4.5% over last month with styrene and polystyrene (PS) the biggest risers as producers successfully passed on increased upstream costs.

The Asian sub-index grew by 3.2% from last month, with olefin prices – particularly those of butadiene (BD) and ethylene – performing strongly. September saw a continuation of the recent rebound of BD prices which last month alone increased by almost $250/tonne. The US presented a slightly more mixed picture as its sub-index rose by 1.3%.

However, some important contract prices – notably, both ethylene and polyethylene (PE) – are still yet to be agreed. US aromatics prices rose in response to concerns about crude oil supplies and potential production issues.

Aromatics prices, particularly for benzene, performed well in each of the three regions. All benzene, toluene and paraxylene (PX) prices were up – apart from Asia PX, which is yet to settle.

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, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), PE, polypropylene (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 September IPEX has been revised from 318.28 to 318.29 following the settlements of August contract prices for ethylene, styrene and PVC in the US and styrene in Asia. The October index will be subject to further revision once September contract prices settle for ethylene, PE, styrene and PVC in the US and for styrene and PX in Asia.

Author: Ciaran Healy

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