Archive | March, 2010

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Roubini cautions on China growth, highlights India

Prof Nouriel Roubini, one of the few to forecast the current Crisis, is very positive about the opportunities for growth in India over the next 20 years. Speaking in Mumbai, he argued that: • “While the economies of India and China are not large enough to lead global growth, emerging markets remain ‘bright spots’ compared […]

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Brenntag’s €2.7bn IPO

The blog congratulates Brenntag, the leading distribution company, on its successful flotation yesterday. Its shares were issued at €50, and rose to €52 in early trading, giving it a market capitalisation of €2.7bn ($3.6bn). New private equity owners BC Partners sold 4.45m shares to raise €223m, and now own 71% of the company. Brenntag itself […]

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Seasonal strength returns to chemicals demand

In December, the blog suggested that “2010 might see the industry return to its normal seasonal pattern, with a strong H1, followed by a slow Q3 holiday season, and then a final burst of activity in October/November before the Xmas break“. The chart above, from the excellent American Chemistry Council’s weekly report, provides welcome evidence […]

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European propylene, butadiene, prices rise above ethylene

A remarkable thing happened this week in European olefin markets. Contract prices for butadiene and propylene were finalised for April/Q2 at higher levels than for ethylene. This has never happened before, in Europe or other regions. The chart, based on ICIS pricing data, shows how ethylene (blue line) has normally been the highest priced olefin. […]

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Sir James Black dies

The death of Sir James Black, Nobel Prize winner and one of the giants of the modern pharmaceutical industry, has been announced this week. He began work at the blog’s former company, ICI after the War. The idea was to build on the success seen with drugs such as penicillin. It was, as we know […]

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Financial investors hike oil prices

“Crude oil is (now) more than just a physical product“, according to NPRA Chairman William Klesse. As he noted, “Today there is ample crude in the world, and crude is not at $80/bbl because of physical markets“. This was a strong statement from the head of the US National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, at the […]

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US housing a long way from full recovery

US housing used to be a $35bn chemicals market, with 2.2m housing starts in 2006, each with a $16.7k chemicals value. Last year, total housing starts were just 550k, for a value of only $9bn. And as the chart above shows, from the American Chemistry Council, the annualised rate (blue line) was just 575k in […]

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World trade falls in line with Great Depression trend

Last June, the blog noted research by Profs Eichengreen and O’Rourke that compared the current Crisis to the Great Depression. They have now updated their work to February 2010, 22 months after the Crisis began. The positive news is that the stimulus measures taken by governments have caused world industrial production to recover. As they […]

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Strategies for success in the US petchem industry

Major changes are underway in the US petchem and polymer market: • Middle East/Asian production will likely eliminate the US Gulf’s historical position as ‘exporter to the world’ • The arrival of cheaper gas, and the impact of shale gas, is changing cracker feedstock slates quite dramatically • The continuing decline in domestic gasoline demand […]

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OPEC calls oil prices “beautiful”

OPEC’s meeting wrapped up quickly yesterday, with Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi once again saying oil prices today were “beautiful“. This highlights sentiment’s ability to take prices in the opposite direction to fundamentals. For certainly, on fundamentals, OPEC should have had a difficult session: • Quota compliance is now down at c50%, with Bloomberg estimating […]

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