Price drops in Asia, an easing of prices for the major olefins and polyolefins in Europe and a lower propylene price in the US helped cause the global ICIS petrochemical index (IPEX) to fall 2.6% m/m in July to 253.52 from a marginally revised June level.
July saw a sharp drop in prices for the major products in Asia, led by ethylene but including all the petrochemicals and polymers comprising the regional IPEXs. The largest price declines in the Asian market were for ethylene (-14.8%), butadiene (-10.5%) and toluene (9.2%). The Asia regional index was down 6.1%.
According to ICIS, ethylene, propylene, polyethylene and polypropylene prices in Europe and Asia had been pushed higher in the second quarter, largely on lack of olefins availability and, in Europe, because of the weak euro. The US propylene contract price fell in July by 8.8% to its lowest level since May 2009 due to good availability driven by downstream polypropylene outages and a shift by cracker operators to heavier feedstocks.
The monthly ethylene contract price in Europe rolled over in July but fell by 1.8% in US dollar terms. In Europe the propylene contract price was down 3.7% in dollar terms (1.9% in Euros).
The fall in prices for the primary olefins and polyolefins was offset by higher benzene and toluene prices in the US and Europe. The US July benzene contract price rose sharply following a steep decline in June. US toluene prices also increased. The July benzene contract price was agreed higher as expected following higher June benzene spot prices, gains in the US market and renewed downstream demand in Europe.
Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling
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