Platts: Global Petrochemical Prices Dropped 1.1% in December

Jan 13, 2016, 08:00 ET from Platts

HOUSTON, Jan. 13, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Prices in the $3-trillion-plus global petrochemicals market in December, expressed as a monthly average, were $796 per metric ton (/mt), down 1.1%  or $9 per mt, from November's average, according to the just-released monthly Platts Global Petrochemical Index (PGPI).

Prices also closed the month on a low note, with an end-of-month closing physical price that was 1.75% lower than the end-of-month price in November. This is a reverse in trend from the previous two months, when markets showed consecutive gains.

The PGPI is a benchmark basket of seven widely used petrochemicals and is published by Platts, a leading global provider of energy, petrochemicals, metals and agriculture information and a top source of benchmark price references. 

"The primary olefins of ethylene and propylene both showed slight gains, while aromatics softened in December, comparing month to month values," said Hetain Mistry, managing analyst for petrochemicals at Platts, a leading global provider of energy and commodities information and benchmark price assessments. "Ethylene was marginally higher, by 0.20% and propylene was 1.4% higher, both remaining steady on tight supply, especially in Asia. In terms of aromatics, benzene and paraxylene saw the biggest shift downwards, with values down 5% for both, following upstream energy trends, as both crude and naphtha posted losses in December."

Crude oil prices were down 14% in December and naphtha prices were down 8%.

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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.

As a group, olefins prices followed the same trend last month with ethylene and propylene prices posting gains. Propylene, which can be made at both the refinery and the cracker, rose by 1.4% to $555 per metric ton (/mt) in December, up $7.75 from November. Ethylene, which is primarily produced at crackers, climbed 0.23% to $820/mt in December, up $2/mt from November.

Polyethylene and polypropylene, plastics manufactured from ethylene and propylene respectively, were both down in December as each derivative reversed the trend observed in the feedstock price.  Global polyethylene prices were down 1% to $1,235/mt, while polypropylene prices fell 0.6% to $1,098/mt.

Prices of aromatics – a group of scented hydrocarbons with benzene rings used to make a variety of petrochemicals – were all down last month.  Benzene was down 5% to $619/mt in December from a November level of $652/mt.  Toluene prices fell 4% in December to $587/mt, down $25/mt from November. Paraxylene, the final aromatic included in the PGPI, was down 5.3% in December to $714/mt, a decline of $40/mt from November.

Petrochemical prices largely moved in line with global equity markets in December, lower across the board. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 2.6%, while The London Stock Exchange Index (FTSE) was down 1.8%. The NIKKEI 225 was down 3.6%.

The PGPI reflects a compilation of the daily price assessments of physical spot market ethylene, propylene, benzene, toluene, paraxylene, low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and polypropylene as published by Platts and is weighted by the three regions of Asia, Europe and the United States. Used as a price reference, a gauge of sector activity, and a measure of comparison for determining the profitability of selling a barrel of crude oil  intact or refining it into products, the PGPI was first published by Platts in August 2007.

Published daily in a real-time news service Platts Petrochemical Alert and other Platts publications, the PGPI is anchored by Platts' robust and long-established price assessment methodology and the firm's 100-year history of energy price reporting. 

Platts petrochemicals experts are available for media interviews. A sample list of experts may be found at the Platts Media Center. For more information on petrochemicals, visit the Platts website at

Global, Americas, Asia: Kathleen Tanzy, + 1 917 331 4607,

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