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ACS webinar on Thursday

Will 2014 finally be the year of economic recovery? There are signs of a stronger economy in the US and Europe. Pharma is shifting and downsizing as it works. How will all of this affect you in 2014? The blog will discuss these and other key issues with American Chemical Society chairman Bill Carroll, in its regular Chemistry […]

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US polyethylene and PVC exporters focus on margin, not volume

2013 has seen 3 types of markets develop for the blog’s IeC Downturn Monitor portfolio as the chart above shows: Financial assets such as the S&P 500 (purple) have soared, as did the US$ against the yen (orange) Crude oil (blue) and naphtha (black) tried to follow, but found it difficult to pass though the higher prices Benzene (green) and […]

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EU, US caustic soda output slows as China’s exports rise

Chlorine and caustic soda are some of the most widely used chemicals.  Thus their performance is always a valuable leading indicator for the wider chemical industry and the economy itself.  So the chart above, based on Eurochlor data,  is a worrying sign: Chlorine production is down by 1.9% in 2013, after a 2.9% fall in 2012 Caustic […]

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Q3 results highlight lack of improvement in the global economy

Q3 was supposed to be the turning point for the global economy.  Back in April, the IMF had announced: “Global prospects have improved again but the road to recovery in the advanced economies will remain bumpy.  World output growth is forecast to reach 3¼% in 2013 and 4% in 2014. In the major advanced economies, […]

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Asian ethylene margins soar on China stimulus, plant outages

Volatility is one of the blog’s key themes for the next few years, as the world transitions to slower growth and a more regional economy.  And the chart above from the latest ICIS pricing Asian ethylene margin report highlights this new trend very well: Margins jumped 42% last week to reach $290/t, based on naphtha […]

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Global chemical operating rates remain well below SuperCycle levels

The latest American Chemistry Council report on global production shows output was up 3% versus September 2012, and just 18% above average 2007 levels.  There was a mixed picture in the main Regions: Asia-Pacific was strongest, up 5.9%, with Japan accelerating as the weak yen helped its exports The Middle East continued to slow, and was up […]

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Lessons from Grangemouth – how Europe can revive its industrial base

Sometimes a crisis can concentrate minds on one key issue.  This was certainly the case last week, when the blog was part of the tense debate over the future of the INEOS petrochemical plant at Grangemouth, Scotland involving the UK and Scottish governments, INEOS and the UNITE union.  The experience highlighted some critical learnings for the future of […]

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China’s polyester market warns of demand weakness ahead

Something very important seems to be happening in China’s polyester’s markets. The blog was brought up on these markets in its early days with ICI, when it was part of the team that launched PTA into Asian markets for the first time in the mid-1980s.  It has always seen them as a source of steady growth, with […]

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Grangemouth closure could force downstream converters to shut

  One never wants to see a major petchem plant shutdown, especially one with the history of Grangemouth in Scotland.  It is the UK’s largest cracker site, with ethylene capacity of 1 million tonnes.  Its production has a sale value of $1bn ($1.6bn), and a final value in food packaging, consumer packaging and automotive parts of […]

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Global chemical operating rates slip to 86%

Global chemical operating rates have shown little improvement over the summer months.  As the chart from the American Chemistry Council (ACC) shows: Rates in July were at 86.4%. compared to 87% in May This compares with the average of 91% between 1987 – 2012, and 86.7% in July 2012 Total production was up 2.8% versus 2012, […]

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