LONDON (ICIS)--The sharp fall in petrochemical and polymer prices in northeast Asia in March helped push down the global ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) for the first time in 10 months, data showed on Wednesday.
The global IPEX stood at 279.54 for the month down 3.1% from the index value for February. The Asia IPEX was down 10.4% at 260.46 balanced by the Europe index up 6.4% month to month at 314.49 and the US index up 4.0% at 289.44.
The IPEX, produced on a regional and a global basis, reflects price movements for 12 petrochemicals and polymers* weighted by capacity with a 100 baseline of January 1993.
Northeast Asia prices, largely spot based, were under pressure from weaker crude as oil prices fell between 06 and 24 March. Oil prices subsequently have recovered some of that lost ground. Meanwhile, increased availability of some products helped to lengthen markets and sentiment shifted markedly for products such as butadiene and benzene.
Northeast Asia prices for butadiene plunged 29.0% over the course of the month, for example. Benzene prices were down 19.6%, driven lower by weak demand from styrene monomer producers. Ethylene, propylene, toluene, methanol and polyethylene prices were also down sharply.
Butadiene prices plunged in the domestic market in China on oversupply and weak demand. The knock-on effect was felt globally.
Benzene prices were pushed lower by weaker demand from styrene monomer with that market subdued after the Lunar New year holiday.
The March IPEX number will be subject to change when March contract prices are agreed for ethylene, polyethylene and styrene in the US and for styrene in northeast Asia.
*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).