Archive | May, 2013

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India’s auto sales fall for record 6th month

As the above chart shows, India’s auto sales have now fallen for the last 6 months versus the previous year. According to India’s auto association, this has never happened before (sales data was first collected in March 1998). This is another symptom of India’s slowing GDP growth, with the government estimating Q1′s level at just […]

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European cracker operating rates drop below 80%

Q1 was another miserable quarter for EU olefin producers. As the chart shows, based on APPE data, ethylene production at 4.7MT was at the lowest level in the past 10 years, with the exception of 2009. In fact, one has to go back to 1997 to find a lower figure: • Operating rates were thus […]

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China’s polyethylene market sees slow growth

The usual flow of China’s polyethylene (PE) production data has been interrupted since the start of the year. But the good news is that normal publication has now been resumed. Thus the chart above shows market developments between January – April, versus 2012 and 2011, including trade data from Global Trade Information Services. PE’s position […]

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Japan’s 7% Nikkei index fall highlights risks ahead

We are now nearly at the end of May, and still there is no sign of a sustained recovery in demand. This mirrors the weakness seen in January and March – normally also very strong months. Now, unless seasonal patterns are overturned, demand will remain slow until September – when people return from holidays and […]

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Q1 results show the outlook darkening

A year ago, the blog’s quarterly review of company results revealed mixed views on the outlook. Dow were expecting “global growth will gain momentum”, whilst Unilever warned the “external environment remains difficult”. But today, much of the optimism has disappeared and several companies including Dow are now focusing on cost-reduction measures. There are still some […]

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Barron

The blog in Barron’s

Barrons, the leading US investment magazine, recently published a major cover story analysing the potential impact of the Millennial generation on the US economy. These are the young people now aged between 18 to 37 years, who are starting to enter their Wealth Creator years. Barron’s noted they currently account for $1.3tn of consumer spending, […]

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Extra selling days support EU April auto sales

Good news about EU auto sales is always welcome, especially when it comes after 17 months of declining sales. Thus the blog is happy to note that April’s sales rose 1.7% versus 2012. Equally, however, it has to report the commentary of Europe’s auto association (ACEA): “The region counted on average two more working days […]

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China’s ‘Ponzi loans’ now 69% of GDP

China’s electricity consumption (green line) is the best real-time guide to economic developments. It is now beginning to confirm the blog’s suggestion that a major shakeout is underway as the new leadership takes charge: • Consumption soared in response to the massive stimulus programme • But it is now up only 5% so far this […]

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Financial markets reach the ‘melt-up stage’

A month ago, the blog highlighted the potentially major implications of the Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) push to devalue the yen as follows: “However, the BOJ has a slightly different agenda. It aims to devalue the yen, not the US$. And the yen has already fallen close to $1: ¥100 compared to $1: ¥93 before […]

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“A word means just what I choose it to mean”

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ This quotation from Lewis Carroll’s great novel ‘Through the Looking-Glass‘ rather seems to sum up policymakers’ current approach to financial markets. Two recent examples highlight the issue: • […]

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