Platts: Petrochemical Prices Ebb in October on Little Changed Fundamentals

Prices Still Up 13% on 2011 levels, but Q4 Drop Could Threaten Early-Year Gains

Nov 06, 2012, 16:09 ET from Platts

LONDON, Nov. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Prices in the $3-trillion-plus global petrochemicals market fell less than 1% to $1,351 per metric ton (/mt) in October, according to the just-released monthly average of the Platts Global Petrochemical Index (PGPI), a benchmark basket of seven widely used petrochemicals. This follows a 7.5% increase in September to an average of $1,357/mt.

But on a year-over-year basis, petrochemical prices were up 13% from the October 2011 average price of $1,200/mt, the Platts data showed. Platts is a leading global energy, petrochemicals and metals information provider and a top source of benchmark price references.  

Petrochemicals are used to make plastic, rubber, nylon and other materials for consumer products, packaging, manufacturing, construction, pharmaceuticals, aviation, electronics and nearly every commercial industry.

The daily price reflected as a monthly average


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"Without much direction from the supply and demand side, petrochemical prices have been closely aligned with energy for the past month," said Jim Foster, Platts senior editor of petrochemical analytics. "Prices of crude oil and naphtha edged lower and with them, the PGPI at large."

The average price of Dated Brent crude oil in October was $111.75 per barrel (/b), marking a 0.7% drop from the September average of $112.50/b. The Platts Global Naphtha Index slipped to $639.75/mt from the September level of $657.15.  

In particular, naphtha weighed on ethylene and propylene prices in October. Both monthly indices fell 1% during the month to $1,342/mt and $1,205/mt, respectively. In September, the ethylene index averaged $1,350/mt, while the propylene index averaged   $1,214/mt/.

The polyolefin markets also were lower, falling faster than their raw input olefin prices. The low-density polyethylene index fell 3% to $1,483/mt in October, down from $1,532/mt in September. Polyethylene posted the largest price drop of all seven components in the PGPI Index. Polypropylene, another polyolefin included in the PGPI, slipped 3% in October to an average price of $1,469/mt, following a September level of $1,513/mt.

Aromatic petrochemical prices posted small gains in October, with the largest increase in the global benzene market. The benzene index climbed 3% to an average $1,331/mt in October, up from $1,290/mt in September. The increase in benzene was supported by supply shortages in the United States.  

"Shipping delays from Asia raised concerns about supplies, pushing some U.S. benzene buyers to raise their bids in October, which in turn, translated in slightly higher benzene prices," Foster said.

Also higher in October were global paraxylene (PX) prices, with the Platts PX index rising 2% to an average of $1,507/mt, versus the September level of $1,478/mt. Toluene, a petrochemical that can be used for gasoline blending or can be converted into benzene and paraxylene, averaged $1,281/mt in October, up 1% from the September average of $1,266/mt.

Petrochemical prices also received little guidance from the global equity markets during October. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) was down 3% in October, while both the Nikkei 225 and London Stock Exchange Index (FTSE) were up 1%.

To access a summary of the October performance of each of the seven key petrochemicals included in the PGPI, visit this link:

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 Platts Petrochemical Alert, a real-time news service, 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, consult Platts Media Center. For more information on petrochemicals, visit the Platts website at

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