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Global petrochemical prices rose again in March

Staff writer |
Prices in the $3-trillion-plus global petrochemicals market climbed another 9% month over month in March, for a second month of rebound following six consecutive months of falling prices.

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Petrochemical prices, expressed as a monthly average, increased $81 per metric ton (/mt) from February to $954/mt in March, according to the Platts Global Petrochemical Index (PGPI).

"Even though crude prices were down slightly on average in March, petrochemicals were still responding to the nearly 20% increase in crude prices in February, and the 24% increase in February naphtha prices," said Jim Foster, director of petrochemical analysis at Platts. "In February, petrochemicals only advanced 3%, but were able to post gains of nearly 10% in March."

Prices of olefins – a group of hydrocarbon compounds which are the building blocks to many petrochemical products used to produce everyday goods – jumped approximately 10% in March as the market reacted to February's strong naphtha prices. Ethylene prices gained 10% in March from February to $922/mt and propylene prices were up 9% to $933/mt.

Polyethylene and polypropylene, plastics manufactured from ethylene and propylene respectively, posted similar month-over-month price gains. Global polyethylene prices climbed to $1,270/mt, up 9%, while polypropylene prices were up 11% to $1,284/mt.

Prices of aromatics – a group of scented hydrocarbons with benzene rings used to make a variety of petrochemicals – also saw increases in March. Benzene saw the largest gain of any component in the PGPI, with prices climbing 15% from February to $727/mt in March. Toluene prices rose 7% to $690/mt, while paraxylene prices were flat at $788/mt.

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