April 04, 2012 at 08:30 AM EDT
Platts: March Petrochemical Prices Rise 3% on Moderate Oil Market Gains

LONDON, April 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Prices in the $3-trillion-plus global petrochemicals market rose 3% in March to $1,445 per metric ton (/mt), according to the just-released monthly average of the Platts Global Petrochemical Index (PGPI), a benchmark basket of seven widely used petrochemicals.

While March marks the third consecutive month of gains in the PGPI, the increase seen in March was relatively small compared to the 10% jump in February prices. The February PGPI average was $1,401/mt, up from $1,270/mt in January.

The PGPI increase seen in March was supported by moderate gains in the global crude oil markets. Brent crude oil prices during the month climbed 5% to $124.50 per barrel (/b), while West Texas Intermediate crude prices rose 4% to $106/b.

PLATTS GLOBAL PETROCHEMICAL INDEX IN DOLLARS PER METRIC TON

The daily price reflected as a monthly average

Mar-'12

Monthly % Change

Annual % change

Mar-'11

Feb-'12

Jan-'12

Dec-'11

Nov-'11

$1,445

+3%

- 3%

$1,485

$1,401

$1,270

$1,161

$1,162

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.

Five of the seven PGPI components' monthly averages were stronger in March. The largest increases were in the global olefins markets, with both ethylene and propylene climbing 5%. The stronger olefins prices also pushed polymer prices higher, with polyethylene climbing 3% and polypropylene climbing 4%. Olefins are the basic building blocks for petrochemicals, namely plastics.

The Platts Global Benzene and Paraxylene indices both fell 2% in March. Toluene prices posted small gains in March, climbing 2%, with gasoline blend values acting as a price floor ahead of the summer driving season in the United States. Benzene, paraxylene and toluene – collectively known as aromatics – are not only used in the manufacture of gasoline, but are the raw materials inputs to a host of consumer products such as plastic packaging, casings for electronic goods, bottles and polyester fibers.

On an end-of-day, end-of-month basis, the PGPI market-on-close value was $1,460/mt March 30 – a 2% increase compared to the end-of-day, end-of-month value for February of $1,433/mt. Month-end closing prices are often used for valuing portfolios.

March's PGPI increase outpaced movement in the European and U.S. equity markets, but was slightly lower than gains in the Asian Nikkei 225. Through March, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) posted a 2% gain while the London Stock Exchange Index (FTSE) fell 2%. The Nikkei 225 climbed 4% during the month.

To access a summary of the March performance of each of the seven key petrochemicals included in the PGPI, visit this link: http://www.platts.com/newsfeature/2012/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 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 www.platts.com.  

About Platts: Founded in 1909, Platts is a leading global provider of energy, petrochemicals and metals information and a premier source of benchmark prices for the physical and futures markets. Platts' news, pricing, analytics, commentary and conferences help customers make better-informed trading and business decisions and help the markets operate with greater transparency and efficiency. Customers in more than 150 countries benefit from Platts' coverage of the carbon emissions, coal, electricity, oil, natural gas, metals, nuclear power, petrochemical, and shipping markets.  A division of The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP), Platts is headquartered in New York with approximately 900 employees in more than 15 offices worldwide. Additional information is available at http://www.platts.com.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies: McGraw-Hill announced on September 12, 2011, its intention to separate into two public companies: McGraw-Hill Financial, a leading provider of content and analytics to global financial markets, and McGraw-Hill Education, a leading education company focused on digital learning and education services worldwide. McGraw-Hill Financial's leading brands include Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, S&P Capital IQ, S&P Indices, Platts energy information services and J.D. Power and Associates. With sales of $6.2 billion in 2011, the Corporation has approximately 23,000 employees across more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com/.

SOURCE Platts

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