LONDON (ICIS)--Price increases in the styrene chain and in butadiene markets in the US and western Europe helped drive the ICIS Petrochemical Index still higher in February, data showed on Tuesday.
The global IPEX was up 8.5% month to month in February following a 9.6% increase in January. Sharp price increases for important petrochemical intermediates and some of the polymers have been lifting the index value globally with the most significant gains to date seen in northeast Asia followed by the US and western Europe.
The momentum behind price increases, however, has diminished in Asia with the northeast Asia IPEX growing at 5.9% in February, almost half the rate of change in January and December. The rise in the northwest Europe and US indexes was greater in February than in January, rising by 11.7% and 11.4% respectively.
The IPEX represents price movements in a basket of 12 petrochemicals and plastics weighted by capacity. It is calculated each month on a regional as well as a global basis as monthly contracts and local spot prices move.
Markets in Asia are largely spot driven, while those in western Europe and in the US are focused on monthly contracts so there tends to be a different time lag in price movements in the different regional markets.
The 12 petrochemicals in the IPEX basket are ethylene, propylene, butadiene, benzene, toluene, paraxylene, styrene, polystyrene (PS), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), methanol and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
The global IPEX value in February was pushed higher by significant price increases for butadiene in northwest Europe, up 49.0%, and in the US, up 40.0% month to month. Monthly benzene prices in Europe and the US were up 22.0% and 22.9% respectively with styrene prices up 20.1% and 15.1% on the same basis.
Propylene tightness in the US was reflected in a 15.7% monthly price increase and a 10.6% increase for polypropylene.