Prices in the $3-trillion-plus global petrochemicals market dropped 1% in August as energy prices fell globally, 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 August PGPI fell $19 from July to $1,427 per metric ton (/mt) and reversed the increases of the last two months. On a year-over-year basis, petrochemical prices were up 5% from August 2013.
"For the past two months, petrochemical production was reduced because of delayed plant restarts, which helped push prices higher," said Jim Foster, Platts editorial director of petrochemical analytics. "As those issues were resolved, prices in August started to fall. Downward price pressure also followed the declining prices of crude oil and naphtha – which petrochemical products are derived from."
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 petrochemical products used to produce everyday goods - were mixed in August. Ethylene prices rose 1% month over month, due to strong gains in late July and early August, which took a downturn by the end of the month due to falling crude oil and naphtha prices. Propylene, the other olefin component in the PGPI, was down 2% in August, led by softening energy prices.
Polyethylene, a polymer produced from ethylene, saw a price decline of 1% in August despite the slight increase in ethylene prices. Polypropylene, a polymer produced from propylene, was down less than 1% last month..
Prices of aromatics – a group of scented hydrocarbons with benzene rings used to make a variety of petrochemicals – slipped in August, due to falling energy prices and lackluster demand from derivative markets. Toluene, a petrochemical that can be blended into gasoline or converted into benzene and xylenes, posted the largest decrease of 6% month over month. Benzene and paraxylene prices were both down 4% in August.
The price decreases in global petrochemical markets occurred amid a mixed performance by global equity markets in August. The Nikkei 225 fell 1% during the month, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 3% and the London Stock Exchange Index (FTSE) advanced 1%.
To access a summary of the August performance of each of the seven key petrochemicals included in the PGPI, visit this link: http://www.platts.com/newsfeature/2014/Petrochemicals/pgpi/index.
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.