Prices in global petrochemicals market increased to US$1,406/tonne in December, up 4% from November: Platts Global Petrochemical Index
January 22, 2014
– Prices in the $3-trillion-plus global petrochemicals market increased in December to $1,406 per metric ton (/mt), up 4% from November, according to the just-released monthly Platts Global Petrochemical Index (PGPI). The PGPI is a benchmark basket of seven widely used petrochemicals and is published by Platts, a leading global energy, petrochemicals and metals information provider and a top source of benchmark price references.
The petrochemical price increases were in line with gains in the global crude oil and naphtha markets. Crude oil prices in December were up 3%, while naphtha prices climbed 4%.
Petrochemicals are used to make plastic, rubber, nylon and other consumer products and are utilized in manufacturing, construction, pharmaceuticals, aviation, electronics and nearly every commercial industry.
Prices of olefins – a group of hydrocarbon compounds which are the building blocks to many petrochemicals – were higher in December, supported by stronger global naphtha prices. Olefins are typically produced using naphtha or natural gas liquids, such as ethane. However, the global spot market price is derived from naphtha, which rose 4% to $643/mt in December, according to the Platts Global Naphtha Index.
Global ethylene prices averaged $1,313 per metric ton (/mt) in December, up from the November average of $1,264/mt. Global polyethylene prices saw similar gains, advancing to $1,704/mt in December, up from $1,648/mt in November.
Propylene, the second olefin component of the PGPI, climbed 5% in December to $1,396/mt, up from $1,332/mt in November. Polypropylene prices rose 3% in December to $1,632/mt, up from $1,581/mt in November. $1,606/mt.
Prices of aromatics – a group of scented hydrocarbons with benzene rings used to make a variety of petrochemicals – were also higher in December, with benzene posting the largest gains of any chemical in the Platts Global Petrochemical Index.
Tight supplies globally pushed the benzene price for December to $1,367/mt, up 10% from the November average of $1,248/mt.
“The tight supply situation in benzene had a ripple effect across the global aromatics markets,” said Jim Foster, senior petrochemical analyst at Platts. “We’re now seeing record highs in January, and the downstream markets are following benzene higher. We’re hearing from sources that prices for styrene in the U.S. hit five-year highs, and are approaching record highs.” Styrene is produced primarily from benzene.
The Platts Global Toluene Index increased 2% in December to $1,133/mt, up from $1,112/mt in November. The Platts Global Paraxylene Index edged up 1% in December to $1,353/mt. This compared to a November average of $1,336/mt.
Petrochemical prices in December posted gains similar to those in the global equity markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) and the Nikkei 225 were up 3% and 4%, respectively. The London Stock Exchange Index (FTSE) was up 1.5% for the month.
To access a summary of the December performance of each of the seven key petrochemicals included in the PGPI, visit this link.
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