ICIS pricing reports are a treasure trove of information for buyers and sellers. They can also provide an interesting insight into the overall mood of the chemical industry.
This might be one of those times. My blogging colleague, John Richardson, noticed several pricing reports mentioned last week that buyers were operating on a 'hand to mouth' basis.
It turns out 10 separate reports* each contained this phrase. As the chart above shows, 5 came from Europe, 2 from China, and 1 each from the Middle East, Asia and the USA. Most were from the polymer chain, where 6 reports mentioned the phrase.
This suggests that some buyers are nervous about future price moves. Probably they were building inventories as oil/feedstock prices rose, and would now like to reduce these to more normal levels.
Of course, there is nothing to say these buyers are right to be cautious. Oil prices might be about to leap up again. But its certainly interesting as anecdotal evidence of buyers' expectations.
* Thanks to Barbara Ortner and Harriet Bourne for the research