Archive | February, 2010

CEOs remain cautious over 2010 Outlook

The blog’s quarterly survey of company Outlook statements shows CEOs remain very cautious. There has been a rebound after the destocking disaster of Q4 2008 – Q1 2009. But there seems little confidence that we will quickly return to the levels of demand and margin seen in the 2003-7 Boom period. China’s stimulus and loan […]

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World trade sees biggest fall in 65 years, GDP declines

World trade fell 12% last year, its worst decline since 1945. First estimates also suggest global GDP fell 2.2%, according to Pascal Lamy, head of the World Trade Organisation. This confirms the World Bank’s fears back last March, that the global economy might shrink for the first time since World War 2. Lamy went on […]

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Carrefour CEO sees “challenging” times ahead

France’s Carrefour is the world’s 2nd largest retailer, with sales of €86bn ($117bn). Reporting 2009 results, CEO Lars Oloffson echoed Wal-Mart’s CEO Mike Duke, saying he saw “challenging” times ahead. And he added that “I don’t see any improvement in the short term in the economic environment. That means very clearly that we have to […]

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US housing starts 74% below 2006 peak

15% of Americans were either in foreclosure, or at least one payment overdue, according to the Q4 Mortgage Bankers Association survey. This is a record high, but the MBA sees some signs that the numbers may have peaked. It is concerned, however, over the rise in the number of long-term unemployed, now a record 40% […]

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Middle East, Chinese, petchem capacity starts to arrive

The blog spent a fruitful afternoon last week, going through ICIS news reports of cracker start-ups in the Middle East and China. The chart above is the fruit of its labours, which shows that 4.8MT of ethylene capacity started up last year in the ME, and 2.1MT in China. Whilst latest estimates suggest that another […]

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Butadiene supply tightens as cracker feeds lighten

One of the key conclusions in our 2008 Study, ‘Feedstocks for Profit’, was that butadiene had the potential to go very tight in a Global Downturn Scenario. And as the chart above shows, prices are now rising sharply in the 3 major Regions. The rationale for the lack of supply is that the gas-based crackers […]

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Wal-Mart’s US sales reduced by deflation

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer with $400bn sales, saw deflation in its core US market last quarter. Prices were down minus 1.6%, even more than the -1% forecast. The cause was lack of confidence amongst shoppers, many of whom are now living “paycheck to paycheck”. The major retailers have an excellent record as forecasters of […]

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Volt to use ethanol as well as electricity

The blog has been following the development of GM’s new all-electric car, the Chevrolet Volt, with interest, ever since Pedro Spohr of Galp in Portugal highlighted its potential to impact naphtha balances. Of course, it won’t do this on its own – but GM’s adoption of the technology makes it essential for other manufacturers to […]

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China’s lending causes central bank headache

No wonder alarm bells were ringing in China’s central bank last week. The above chart (from China Daily) shows how total lending rebounded to $204bn in January, only 14% below the 2009 level. Total lending doubled during 2009 to $1.4bn, an astonishing amount for a country with total GDP of $4.3trn. Of course, this enabled […]

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EU auto sales benefit from scrappage schemes

The European Union was the leading auto market in the world in 2009. It sold 14.4m, versus 13.6m in China and 10.4m in the USA. January has continued this promising trend, with volumes up 13% versus 2009. But it is likely to prove temporary, as government scrappage schemes end. This has already happened in the […]

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