Europe chemical stocks, commodities stabilise on Fed reassurance

10 August 2011 13:33  [Source: ICIS news]

Europe chems shares rebound after heavy lossesLONDON (ICIS)--European chemical company share prices showed slight gains as global markets steadied after a week of sell-offs, while oil and chemical commodity prices also rose slightly early on Wednesday.

Falling prices in markets across the world were halted by the US central bank’s decision to keep interest rates in the world’s biggest economy at historic lows.

Despite a raft of strong second-quarter results, chemical firms’ shares prices had followed most world stock markets downwards in the week to 9 August, on the back of concerns over fiscal stability in the US and Europe and fears that major Western economies could be facing a double-dip recession.

However, stocks and commodities rallied on Tuesday and Wednesday after the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, announced that it would keep interest rates at historic lows near 0% for at least two more years, with policy makers in Europe and Asia likely to follow suit.

The Dow Jones Euro Stoxx Chemicals was up by 0.79% on Wednesday morning, following gains in stock markets in the US and Asia the previous evening. Oil prices also rose in early trading, with Europe’s September Brent up $3.22/bbl to $104.2/bbl and the US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) contract for September also up, by $2.28/bbl, to $81.90/bbl.

Early buy/sell indications on chemical markets also improved somewhat, with bids for September deliveries of styrene heard at $1,475/tonne FOB (free on board) ARA (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp) and offers at $1,500/tonne FOB ARA, up around $20/tonne on either side from a day earlier. Benzene buyers and sellers were quoting prices of $1,275–1,290/tonne CIF (cost, insurance and freight) ARA for August and $1,250–1,270/tonne CIF ARA for September, up $20–35/tonne from Tuesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which tracks the US’s biggest publicly listed companies, closed up 429.9 points on 9 August, while the Nikkei stock index in Japan was back above the psychological 9,000 point barrier, up 94.3 points from the markets opening in Asia. In Europe, the UK’s FTSE 100 index was up 51.2 points to 5,216.1 points, while Germany’s DAX was up 72.6 points to 5,989.72 points.

However, the gains seen in markets across the world were slight, in a range of 0.5–1.2% in Asia and Europe on Wednesday, and shares are yet to recoup the losses seen in a week that marked the biggest sell-off since the financial crisis of 2008–2009.

The Euro Stoxx Chemicals index was down by 9.5% week on week and has lost 12.9% since 10 August 2010.

Among the biggest winners in early trading on Wednesday was Oslo-listed Yara Interational, the world’s biggest nitrogen fertilizers producer. The company’s shares were trading at around Norwegian kroner 254.30 ($46.02, €32.27), up by more than 4% from the markets opening, but were still down by 16.8% week on week. Shares in French specialty chemical company Arkema also gained in early trading, with stocks selling at €56.80 ($81.14), up by 3.9% from the markets opening.

However, not all chemical stocks were rising, with Germany’s Bayer and Switzerland’s Clariant both marking slight losses early in the day. Bayer shares traded at €44.50, down by 1.1% from the markets opening, while Clariant shares traded at Swiss francs 9.70 ($13.57, €9.52), down by 1.3%.

It remains unclear what direction markets will go in over the coming weeks, with confusion over the global economy a key driver of uncertainty, chemical commodity traders said.

($1 = €0.70)

By: Peter Salisbury
+44 20 8652 3214

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