January IPEX rebounds with Europe leading the way

08 January 2014 11:02 Source:ICIS News

petrochemical worksLONDON (ICIS)--January’s ICIS petrochemical index (IPEX) rebounded across all three regions, with Europe leading the way.

Global figures were at a nine-month high, up by 2.6% from the revised December figure of 325.74 *.

Europe’s improvement in January was largely caused by a strong performance in aromatics, with the region's aromatics sub-index up by 8.4%, aided by a weaker dollar.

Benzene prices rose by almost 15% in dollar terms, making it the most improved product globally.

There were concerns over future supply in December after strike action at Total’s Feyzin and Gonfreville crackers in France. Dow’s cracker in Tarragona, Spain, was also closed for maintenance. Toluene prices too rose sharply by 10.5% in dollar terms.

Aromatics prices were also the greatest improvers in Asia and the US, increasing by 2.7% and 3.4% respectively. The rise was largely due to strengthening benzene prices.

Olefins were up across each of the three regions, with the olefins sub-index recording the best figures since March 2013. Asian butadiene (BD) was the only product to decrease in price, by just over 1%.

Propylene exhibited the greatest improvement of the US petrochemical product basket, rising by 6%. Ethylene was the best performer of the European olefins, increasing by more than 4% on the previous month.

The global IPEX polymer sub-index was at its highest since July 2011. Asian and European polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) prices all increased.

US PP prices rose by more than 5%, as supply remains tight off the back of the best ‘new home’ construction figures since the 2008-2009 recession.

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, 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 December IPEX has been revised from 325.94 to 325.74 following the November contract settlement for styrene in the US. This month’s index will also be subject to revision once the December ethylene and styrene contracts settle in the US.

IPEX Jan 2014

Receive regular chemical updates and download global and regional ICIS IPEX data here.

View the full IPEX methodology click here.

By James Ball

By Staff Reporter