Prices in the global petrochemicals market rose slightly in July to US$1,319 per metric ton (/mt) in July, according to the just-released monthly Platts Global Petrochemical Index (PGPI).
The average PGPI price in July was up 0.5% from June, following a month-over-month price rise in May. However, on a year-over-year basis, petrochemical prices were up 12% from July 2012, when the average price was US$1,175/mt.
Olefins, a group of hydrocarbon compounds which are the building blocks to many petrochemicals, moved higher in July, with ethylene posting the largest increase of any of the seven PGPI components.
“The July PGPI price advance was driven in large part by a 2% rise in ethylene prices, particularly in Europe, where naphtha is cracked to make ethylene,” said Jim Foster, Platts Senior Petrochemicals Analyst. He said naphtha price were up 6% from June, according to the latest Platts monthly average.
However, the gains in ethylene were largely contained and did not prove a major price determinant downstream. For example, in the polyethylene (PE) market, prices advanced only fractionally from June, up only US$5/mt to US$1,545/mt.
Propylene, the second olefin component in the PGPI, showed an unchanged price pattern for July, with the average price virtually flat at US$1,287/mt. However, minimal price increases were seen in polypropylene (PP), where prices moved only 1% from the June average of US$1,519/mt to US$1,539/mt in July.
Prices of aromatics, a group of scented hydrocarbons with benzene rings used to make a variety of petrochemicals, were mostly higher in July, albeit by small amounts.
The Platts Global Toluene Index advanced 1% in July to an average US$1,104/mt from the June average of US$1,094/mt. Paraxylene prices rose by a similar amount last month to US$1,405/mt from the June average of US$1,389/mt.
Benzene, the final aromatic component of the PGPI, saw a price drop of 4% in July to US$1,234/mt from the June average of US$1,286/mt.
Petrochemical prices in July failed to keep pace with gains in key global equity markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) rose 4% last month and the London Stock Exchange Index (FTSE) increased 7%. The Nikkei 225 was locked in sideways trade from June through July.
The PGPI is a benchmark basket of seven widely used petrochemicals, ethylene, propylene, benzene, toluene, paraxylene, low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and PP. It is published by Platts, a global energy, petrochemicals and metals information provider.