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Recessions Nov09.jpg

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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Companies remain cautious on the outlook

The good news is that the stabilisation seen in Q2 has been maintained. But companies remain cautious on the outlook, to judge from Q3 reports. CEOs are sceptical about the impact of government stimulus efforts in the West, and fear demand will fall back as these end. The only optimists are in China and India. […]

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Computerised trading dominates crude oil markets

The purpose of liquidity in financial markets is to enable price discovery. But when super-fast computers take over the trading, that purpose disappears. Instead, we have today’s “correlation trading“. Olivier Jakob of PetroMatrix demonstrates this with the above chart, which shows Tuesday’s detailed trading patterns in WTI and the Dow Jones Index. Clearly, they are […]

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The limits of central bank lending

Over the past year, much of the Western financial system has been on life support. Now the European Central Bank (ECB), like its peers, is grappling with the question of ‘What happens next?’ ECB Board member Lorenzo Smaghi set out the key issues yesterday: • “Our role (as a central bank) is limited to the […]

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China exports deflation as it adds capacity

China will pump loans worth $1.3trn into its economy this year, equal to 1/3rd of GDP. Equally, by tying the yuan to the US$, China has achieved a major devaluation against major currencies such as the euro. The result has been that China’s Q3 GDP rose less in “nominal” terms than in “real” terms. Normally […]

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Oil hits $80/bbl

The blog should award itself a pat on the back, now its May forecast of $80/bbl crude has come true. And it is pleased to maintain its 100% record in forecasting the direction and level of oil prices. But it still regrets the lack of substance behind the so-called ‘correlation trade’ between oil, the US$ […]

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