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Reported earnings still forecast slow recovery

The Q3 company results season is now almost complete. It suggests that: • Companies still find it difficult to forecast revenue increases • Earnings are instead being boosted by cost cutting eg jobs In the US, the average workweek is now at a record low of 33 hours. Whilst EU companies are worrying whether today’s […]

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IEA, OPEC, worry about high oil prices and CO2

The new World Energy Outlook from the International Energy Agency (IEA) spells out two major challenges. It: • “Identifies higher oil prices, coupled with the downturn in oil sector investment, as a serious threat to the world economy, just as it is beginning to recover“. • Suggests that “a profound transformation of the energy sector” […]

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Wal-Mart sees global price deflation continuing

The blog regards Wal-Mart and other major retailers as excellent leading indicators of trends in the wider economy. It was therefore concerned to see CFO Tom Schoewe reporting today that Wal-Mart continues to “operate in a very challenging economy“, where the key driver is to provide “the lowest prices to our customers around the world.” […]

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Insolvent US banks can’t lend

Many US policymakers are still in denial about the underlying causes of the downturn. They argue it is due to a lack of liquidity, and are thus encouraging ‘hot money’ to flood into financial markets. But the new ‘bubbles’ created by this wishful thinking, such as today’s $80/bbl oil prices, are making the underlying problem […]

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US unemployment rate now 10.2%

The US accounts for 23% of global GDP. Its economy is 3 times larger than the No 2 country, Japan. And most critically for the chemical industry, 70% of US GDP is consumer-based. Developments in US housing/construction, auto and electronics industries are therefore the biggest single influence on global chemical sales. In turn, the level […]

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UK downturn follows the 1930/34 path

Politicians and analysts often focus on selling dreams. Otherwise, we might not be tempted to buy their promises of better times ahead. But those running businesses have to remain realistic. BASF’s CEO, Jurgen Hambrecht, did exactly that in his comments on the outlook. And the above chart, from the UK’s National Institute of Economic and […]

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Insights from LyondellBasell and BASF

Recent comments from LyondellBasell’s COO, and BASF’s CEO, seem worth highlighting as we come to the end of the results season. Ed Dineen noted that China’s polyethylene demand seems partly linked to changes in crude oil pricing, “It turned down somewhat as we saw crude retreat a little, but as crude turned back up toward […]

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US auto sales enter the “new normal”

The blog is changing its US auto sales chart, now that a year has passed since volumes collapsed last October. Year-on-year % changes become meaningless as a result. Instead, it will now show monthly volumes, on a total US basis (blue line) and for the major producers (dotted lines). Key highlights this month are: • […]

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China’s economic “bubble” continues to deflate

This year’s speculative boom in China’s economy, created by major government lending and stimulus programmes, now seems to be ending. The evidence for this is in the above chart, showing LLDPE futures trading on the Dalian exchange. This hit 80 million tonnes (MT) in April, versus total global output for this type of polyethylene of […]

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Buy on the rumour, sell on the news

“Buy on the rumour, sell on the news” is the classic indication of a weak market. A lack of follow-through buying reveals that market action is not supported by fundamentals, but only by sentiment and momentum. Friday’s 2.8% fall on the US S&P 500, in reaction to Thursday’s positive US GDP number, was therefore a […]

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