Global petrochemical prices see 3% rise in June, the first increase in four months

Prices in the US$3 trillion-plus global petrochemicals market climbed 3% to US$1312/metric ton (/mt) in June, the first increase since February of this year, 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. This followed an average monthly PGPI price of US$1278 in May. On a year-over-year basis, the data showed petrochemical prices were up 19% from the June 2012 average of US$1104/mt. Olefins moved higher in June, ending a three-month price decline. "Propylene prices were up 5% in June, with prices approaching $1,300/mt," said Jim Foster, Platts senior petrochemicals analyst. "That's the first price increase since February, and prices are returning to levels not seen since the first quarter. Ethylene prices also were higher, climbing 4% in June. Market fundamentals indicate the increases were largely supply-driven, as variable costs for both products were mostly unchanged." U.S. ethylene supplies were curtailed in June by pre-scheduled plant outages as well as the mid-June explosion at the Williams Olefins plant in Geismar, Louisiana. Global ethylene price in June averaged US$1213/mt, up 4% from the May average of US$1170/mt. Global polyethylene prices followed the ethylene price increase, rising 6% to US$1540/mt in June, up from US$1459 in May. Propylene, the second olefin component of the PGPI, climbed 5% in June to US$1287/mt, up from US$1228/mt in May. Polypropylene prices followed propylene prices higher, climbing 5% in June to US$1519/mt from US$1482/mt in May. Prices of aromatics were mostly lower in June, reflecting a lack of demand. The Platts Global Toluene Index fell 6% in June to US$1094/mt, down from US$1158/mt in May. The Platts Global Benzene Index fell 3% in June to US$1286/mt from the May average of US$1322/mt. The Platts Global Paraxylene Index was the only aromatic component of the PGPI to post a gain in June, edging up 1% to US$1389/mt.
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