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Markets approach the “drawn-out fundamental downtrend” phase

Sell in May and Go Away” is the oldest rule in stock market investment. This week has certainly provided further support for it: • The major Western stock markets are down c8% • The major emerging markets are down between 4% – 13% • Crude oil prices are down 13% This May panic may well […]

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Gasoline stocks at all-time high ahead of US driving season

They say that you learn more from your mistakes than your successes. In the blog’s case, it will never forget the mistake it made when it began to build a long position in early May, soon after arriving in Houston, Texas. It was expecting product to go tight as the US gasoline season began on […]

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US auto market remains “very fragile”

US auto sales (black line) in April showed welcome improvement versus 2009, but were still a long way short of earlier demand levels. They were up 19% versus April 2009. But even with this improvement, they were down by 24% by comparison with 2 years ago. On an annualised basis, they were only 11.2m versus […]

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Chemical companies see upturn, but not yet a sustained recovery ahead

The chemical industry is a well-known leading indicator for the world economy. Yet 18 months after the financial crisis began, the blog’s review of quarterly company results reveals few signs of optimism that a sustained upturn is underway. Q1 has certainly seen the forecast seasonal boost. But Asia, particularly China, remains the real focus of […]

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US house prices face ‘double-dip’ risk

February was a milestone in US house markets. For the first time since December 2006, prices were higher than a year ago, according to today’s authoritative S&P/Case Shiller Index. But the rise in the 10 City and 20 City indices was just 1%. And as the above S&P chart shows, prices are still only at […]

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Middle East worries about rise of dumping charges

Trade protectionism is on the rise around the world, as the blog forecast in its Budget Outlook back in October. It suggested that “arguments about the ‘export of jobs’ will increase“, and argued that “chemical companies will need to keep a close eye on the political arena, as they operate in a complex value chain, […]

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Betting against the American dream

The political firestorm inspired by the SEC’s citing of Goldman Sachs for fraud shows no sign of dying down. It has even inspired a Broadway song that describes how another hedge fund, Magnetar, allegedly made money out of betting against the housing securities it helped to create. Click here to see it (the video is […]

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EU auto sales rise 9% in Q1

The impact of government scrappage schemes continues to dominate European auto sales. As the chart shows, sales were up 9.2% in Q1, and March was up 10.8%, versus 2009. On a national basis, Germany continued its decline after the end of its scheme, with sales down 26.6% in March. But this was offset by UK […]

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China’s bank lending falls 43% in Q1

There are increasing signs that China is getting serious about tightening its lending policies. The above chart, from China’s central bank, shows how lending has fallen since January. Then, it was 14% down versus 2009. But by the end of Q1, lending was down 43% versus Q1 2009. In addition, the government has begun to […]

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China aims to boost domestic consumption

The dramatic rise of Asia’s economies, including China, has been based on an export-driven model. Their growth powered ahead as long as the West grew, and companies continued to outsource much of their basic manufacturing activity to lower-cost countries. In 2001, for example, China’s exports were just 20% of GDP. But by 2007, they had […]

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