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EU chemicals volume down 10% versus 2005 levels

The above chart, from Moncef Hadhri’s excellent monthly report from CEFIC (the European chemical industry association) provides an interesting snapshot of the state of the EU chemical industry. On the positive side, it shows that recovery from the destocking period was well underway in June (the latest data available). Volume (green line), had risen 10% […]

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Smart shoppers focus on needs, not wants

After destocking, and then restocking, what next? The blog is a great believer in following the insights of the major retailers, who have been consistently “on the money” in their analysis. Thus it takes very seriously the comments of Wal-Mart CEO, Mike Duke, who has joined the camp of those who believe we face a […]

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Tyre duties highlight protectionist pressures

Globalisation flourished whilst economic growth was strong. Jobs lost in Western countries were replaced by new jobs. Whilst cheaper production offshore kept consumer prices low, as well as bringing more people into the world economy. But today’s economic downturn means this virtuous circle is turning vicious. Western countries are becoming more protectionist and hope to […]

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China says “perseverance” needed as crisis continues

China was the first major country to feel the impact of the financial crisis. In August 2008, it noted that “the era of low costs and high growth has come to an end for China, and an economic restructuring is inevitable”. Since then, of course, China’s export-dependent economy has meant it has been one of […]

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US faces a jobless “recovery”

Today is Labor Day holiday in the USA. But sadly, the latest news on jobs remains deeply worrying. As the chart from the New York Times shows, jobs are still being lost (blue line), long after recovery had begun in downturns from 1974 – 2000. And far more jobs have already been lost. Total jobs […]

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UK homeowners pay back mortgages

One of the blog’s major themes is that it fears the idea of a quick V-shaped recovery will prove wishful thinking. New figures from the Bank of England seem to bear out its caution. The slightly complex chart shows that net UK lending for mortgages (yellow line, then red diamond) has been falling steadily since […]

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Smart money leaves Dalian

A key rule for any successful trader is that high volume is always bullish, and low volume is negative. The blog first learnt this when trading oil products in Houston, on secondment from the UK in the 1980′s. And it has proved an invaluable guide ever since, in a wide range of markets. The rationale […]

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L’Oreal goes Affordable

Further evidence of the trend towards a more frugal consumer comes from L’Oreal, the world’s largest cosmetics company. Like Procter & Gamble, it was slow to react to the trends identified by the major retail chains some 2 years ago. As a result, its profits fell 14% in H1, after decades of 10% annual increases. […]

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August 2009 highlights

Many readers have been out of the office during August on a well-deserved break. As usual, the blog is therefore highlighting below the main postings over the past month, in the hope this will help you to catch up quickly on key developments – please click on the highlighted title if you want to read […]

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Restocking continues, consumers become more frugal

There are clear signs in the above chart that the inventory cycle has turned positive again, as customers restock. Globally, data from the American Chemistry Council shows chemical production now down 10.5% versus last year, after being 13.4% down in March, in line with signs that GDP in the west is now stabilising. But will […]

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