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US company earnings soar, sales disappoint again

The blog’s quarterly look at US company earnings reveals a worrying trend. As Howard Silverblatt, Senior Index Analyst for S&P, puts it “”no sales means no jobs, means no recovery“. As the chart shows, Reported Earnings (red line) recovered strongly to $61 in Q1, and were back at Q1 2008 levels. Equally, as the Q2 […]

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ECB’s Trichet backs austerity measures

Last year, governments focused on stimulus measures, to support the global economy. Now Jean-Claude Trichet, head of the European Central Bank (ECB), says that “with hindsight, we see how unfortunate was the oversimplified message of fiscal stimulus given to all industrial economies under the motto ‘stimulate’, ‘activate’,’ spend’!” Writing in the Financial Times, he is […]

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China’s auto and housing markets weaken

“There are 64.5 million empty apartments and houses in China’s urban areas“, according to Barrons, the US investment magazine. The figure comes from a survey of the country’s electricity meters, undertaken by China’s Academy of Social Sciences. To date, China’s homebuyers remain convinced that home prices cannot fall, as shown by their willingness last year […]

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Honam’s Malaysia buy opens SEA market share battle

Over-capacity is going to be a major issue for the petchem industry over the next few years. Asian producers, in particular, are likely to be worst impacted. The reason is that they have relied on exports to China taking up to 50% of their production. But now China’s own production is ramping up, reducing the […]

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European auto sales continue to slip

Chemical companies face a clear risk of a synchronised slowdown in demand in all 3 major Regions during H2. • The US is hitting a ‘soft patch’ at best, if not a full ‘double dip’ • China’s demand seems to have already slowed. • Europe, sadly, seems to be following the same path. Not only […]

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ACS and ISM feature the blog

The latest in the American Chemical Society’s 6 monthly ‘Chemicals and the Economy’ webinar series took place last week. It was moderated by former ACS President, Bill Carroll, of Occidental Chemical, and again proved very popular. ACS reported high levels of satisfaction from participants. Comments included: “This speaker is one of my favorites.” “This was […]

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China’s economy flashes an amber light

China’s chemical demand is clearly starting to slow, as my fellow blogger John Richardson has been reporting recently. This has big implications for the global chemical industry, which has relied on China to balance declining sales in the West. The slowdown comes as the government rolls back the stimulus measures introduced in Q4 2008, when […]

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BASF’s Hambrecht hits at China’s business policies

The business climate for Western firms in China is getting worse. 2 weeks ago, the CEO of General Electric, Jeffrey Immelt, caused a stir when he told a private dinner that “I really worry about China. I am not sure that in the end they want any of us to win, or any of us […]

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Fed, American Chemistry Council, worry about US economy

The US Federal Reserve and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) have joined the blog in expressing concern about the outlook for the US economy. And as the chart above of the US S&P 500 shows, financial markets have continued to weaken since the blog’s advice on 8 May to “sell in May and go away“. […]

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Petchem supply/demand enters the New Normal

The blog’s major series this week has focused on the changes that seem to be taking place in markets for the petchem ‘building block’ products, particularly ethylene, propylene, benzene and paraxylene. These changes in relative price and availability are of vital importance to a wide range of downstream chemical products. They may well prove to […]

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