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US natural gas markets in confusion

Natural gas is a major feedstock for US chemical producers. So the problems caused by the rush to buy a fund that “invests” in the natural gas futures market, are a concern. Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix has been warning for some time that the UNG fund was becoming too large. Investors have been so keen […]

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Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble

Its not only the blog (and fellow blogger John Richardson), who worry about the speculative frenzy underway in China, and its impact on global polymer and chemical markets. Wu Xiaoling, former deputy governor of the central bank, has called the growth in new lending “excessive“, and warned it is creating “bubbles in the property and […]

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Lies, damn lies, and statistics

Source: Chartoftheday.com There are “lies, damn lies, and statistics” according to Mark Twain, the famous American humorist. His argument was that statistics are often (a) untrue* and (b) used without the necessary context. Last week provided a perfect example of the latter. As the blog’s own Boom/Gloom Index© shows, sentiment is currently very positive in […]

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Chemical production stabilises as destocking ends

The excellent weekly report from the American Chemistry Council (ACC) has a number of interesting insights: • As the chart shows, global chemical production seems to have bottomed. All regions are, however, now showing a decline versus 2008. • Separately, the ACC has updated its valuable survey of the state of inventories down the US […]

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Refiners’ margins come under pressure

In another sign of the economy ‘bouncing along the bottom’, US drivers appear to have returned to the road in recent months. Latest figures from the US Highway Administration show a 0.1% rise in vehicle miles travelled during May, the second consecutive month of positive growth since 2007. But this is unlikely to provide much […]

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California seals deal on $26bn deficit

California’s Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has now made a provisional agreement to reduce the State’s soaring budget deficit. Its main features are a $9bn temporary cut in the education budget, plus multi-$bn cuts in welfare and health programmes. The only good news is that it clears the way for oil drilling to resume off the Santa […]

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US housing starts rise 3.6%

The blog is rather pleased with the performance of its new Boom/Gloom Index©, as financial markets continue to respond positively to any suggestion of “good news”. The Index is based on Ben Graham’s famous concept that markets are: • A voting machine in the short-term but • A weighing machine in the long-term It is […]

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Ineos confirms new covenants agreed

As expected, Ineos have today confirmed that their proposed new covenants have now been accepted by their lenders. For those unfamiliar with the mechanisms used in the world of high-yield debt, this does not involve any new money, or a refinancing. Instead, it means that the lenders have agreed to provide Ineos with more head-room […]

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Swedish bank takes over Top 50 European automotive supplier from private equity

In 2007, Sweden was the largest private equity market in Europe, as a percentage of the country’s GDP. And the local banks lent freely, as elsewhere, to fund investments. Now they, and other Nordic banks, are struggling to minimise their losses. According to Bloomberg, Sweden’s second-biggest bank, Handelsbanken, “seized parts of Plastal Group and Plastal […]

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European auto sales increase versus 2008

Any improvement in the troubled auto sector is extremely good news for the chemical industry, after the battering of the past few months. Thus the blog welcomes news, as the chart shows, that European sales increased 2.4% in June, the first rise for over a year. Government support for scrapping older cars has led the […]

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