US December IPEX down nearly 3% on sharply lower ethylene, PE prices

Author: Nigel Davis


LONDON (ICIS)--Lower olefins and polymers prices pushed the US IPEX down in December by 2.66%, helping to lower the global index value by 0.45% to 204.66.

The US index was down 2.66% month on month at 194.48.

US ethylene and polyethylene (PE) prices for December were under pressure from increased available supply.

Spot ethylene prices fell steadily in November and December, compared with September and October, highs that had been driven by production issues.

Cracker start ups and rate increases lifted supply towards the year end.

There was a twin (November and December) ethylene contract settlement for US ethylene agreed at the start of January 2020.

Globally, markets were weak in December as customers ran down inventories towards the year end against the backdrop of weaker manufacturing industry demand and largely plentiful supply.

The rising oil price buoyed aromatics prices as shown in the sharp increase month to month in December for benzene in northwest Europe and northeast Asia.

IPEX IPEX Value Nov to Dec change
Global 204.66 -0.45%
US 193.48 -2.66%
Northwest Europe (NWE) 253.02 -0.27%
Northeast Asia (NEA) 191.09 0.65%

Major price rises in December

Commodity Region Month on month rise
Benzene NWE 13.33%
Benzene NEA 11.15%
Toluene NEA 7.36%

Major price falls in December 2019

Commodity Region Month on month fall
Butadiene US -9.40%
Ethylene US -8.47%
Propylene NEA -6.69%

IPEX values are subject to change at a later date as contract prices settle.

US paraxylene has yet to settle for December.

Elsewhere, there were monthly price rollovers for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in northwest Europe and for styrene and polystyrene (PS) in the US.

Interactive content by ICIS Analytics and Editorial departments 

Global and regional IPEX data are available here

The ICIS Petrochemical Index methodology is available here

The ICIS petrochemical index tracks the movement of 12 major petrochemicals and polymers: ethylene, propylene, butadiene, benzene, toluene, paraxylene (PX), PE, polypropylene (PP), styrene, PS, methanol and PVC, with the regional indexes weighted by capacity.