Archive | September, 2010

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Indonesia consolidates, as China’s imports reduce

The battle lines are definitely being drawn up in South East Asia, following Honam’s July move to acquire Malaysia’s Titan. The context for this is Asian producers need to develop new strategies, as export opportunities to China dry up. China’s ethylene production grew 26% in H1 versus 2009, with Sinopec increasing its output by 41%. […]

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Traders focus on correlations, not fundamentals

Investors on Wall Street are no longer bothering with the boring detail of company performance. That’s the conclusion from a new study by Barclays Capital, on the correlation between movements in the S&P 500 and individual stocks. Instead, they are piling into the ‘correlation trade’, as high-speed computers now often account for over 60% of […]

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Major changes underway in chemicals markets

This week’s ICIS Chemical Business includes the blog’s article on the changes taking place in global markets for ethylene, propylene, butadiene, benzene and paraxylene. These have a potential impact on buyers and sellers all the way down the various value chains. The article updates the blog’s major series on these issues in the summer, and […]

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US consumers turn to Dollar stores

Major changes are taking place in US retailing. They echo the changing focus of emerging Asian markets. Taken together, these must have important implications for chemical demand. US retail markets have been evolving over the past 3 years, as the Crisis began to hit, and the baby-boomers moved beyond the peak 25 – 54 age […]

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Japan leads round of competitive devaluations

The blog remains very concerned that, overall, the economic policies adopted during the current Crisis are leading the world economy to the worst possible outcome. This outcome is totally predictable. Indeed it has been predicted by reputable experts for some years. Yet most policymakers still seem intent on dealing with symptoms rather than causes. As […]

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‘Cash for clunkers’ a waste of money

Last year, the US administration spent $2.85bn on supporting the sale of 360k autos, by paying owners of older vehicles to destroy them with sodium silicate. At the time, most people in the chemical industry, and many experts, regarded this ‘cash for clunkers’ programme as being a complete waste of money. And they became even […]

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The Great Disappointment follows the Great Recession

The good news this week was that the body responsible for dating US recessions, the National Bureau of Economic Research, finally declared that the so-called Great Recession was over. It was the longest since the Depression, running from December 2007 to June 2009, and twice as deep as in 1981-2, causing a 4% loss in […]

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Oil markets draw a triangle

Peter Lynch, who managed Fidelity’s Magellan Fund in its great days, once remarked that “the futures and options markets are a giant transfer payment from the unwary to the wary“. This has certainly been the case in oil markets over the past 18 months. The sale of futures contracts to pension funds and others, has […]

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China warns of stability risks from housing bubble

China’s leadership seems to be increasingly confident about its ability to redirect the economy towards more domestic consumption over time, and away from the previous over-reliance on exports. As the above chart shows, bank lending (red column) is well on track to meet the $1.1trn target set for 2010, down 21% from 2009′s high. In […]

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EU auto sales suffer “continued downward trend”

ICIS’ Mark Victory wrote a interesting article this week, in which he tried to relate differing views of the economic outlook to auto demand, the area in which he specialises. The underlying issue, of course, is the complexity of the value chain, where supplies are often ordered months in advance, whilst most data will only […]

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