December IPEX drops on lower aromatics prices

12 December 2013 16:05  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Following a considerable weakening of aromatics prices, the December ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) represents a reduction of 0.9% from the revised November figure of 330.96*.

The aromatics contribution to the index declined by 3.0% after benzene, paraxylene (PX) and styrene prices tumbled. These prices fell (or are awaiting contract settlements) in each of the three regions as a result of lower crude prices and poor derivatives demand.

The reductions were particularly pronounced in Europe, where benzene, toluene and styrene prices all plunged by more than €75/tonne. European PX, styrene and toluene prices softened by 6%, 7% and 8% respectively. Benzene prices in Europe saw a drop of close to 10%, the largest for any product.

The weakest regional performance came from Europe, where the index slumped by 4.0%. The prices of all but one, butadiene (BD), of the 12 products in the IPEX basket were lower. However, this was partly the result of a 1.2% strengthening of the dollar against the euro.

The Asian index also dipped, by 1.2%. The picture here was more mixed, with BD prices weakening alongside the aromatics.

On the other hand, the US sub-index actually rose by 0.3%. The sub-index was helped by higher ethylene and BD prices. US BD prices went up the most of any product across the three regions, jumping by 17%.

Despite the relatively strong BD performance, the contribution of olefins to the worldwide index slipped by 0.9%, with significantly reduced European ethylene prices particularly important.

Polystyrene (PS) prices fell in all three regions, alongside the lower styrene prices. Nevertheless, the overall contribution of polymers was 0.5% higher, driven by a considerable strengthening in Asia polyethylene (PE) prices and a smaller increase in Asian polypropylene (PP) prices.

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, 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 November IPEX has been revised from 331.31 to 330.96 following October contract settlements for ethylene, PE and PVC in the US. The November IPEX will be subject to further revision once the October styrene contract price settles in the US. This month’s index will also be subject to revision once the November styrene contract settles in the US.

December IPEX

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View the full IPEX methodology here

Author: Ciaran Healy

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ICIS Global Petrochemical Index (IPEX)
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