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Retailers still see challenging times ahead

The blog is a great believer in the forecasting power of the major retailers. The top 3 global companies, Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Tesco all identified a change in consumer buying patterns as early as July 2007, when Tesco warned that “coming down the road is a tougher time“. Worryingly, their most recent comments give no […]

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IMF warns on government spending

The global economy and the chemical industry have been boosted, since the Crisis began in 2008, by massive government stimulus programmes in areas such as autos and housing. Now the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has released a new report, focusing on what happens next. It warns that “general government debt is expected to rise by […]

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Dow focuses on Performance, Market-Driven businesses

10 years ago, Dow was in the middle of completing its $12bn Union Carbide acquisition. This made it the world’s second largest chemical company, and a leading player in Basic petchems and polymers. More recently, however, higher oil prices have made life increasingly difficult for chemical businesses that lack upstream integration. Dow’s response, born of […]

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India’s motor industry focuses on ‘Nano’ cars

India was the only major country to see auto production growing last year. With the Asian Petchem Industry meeting opening in Mumbai, it seems timely to look at the progress of the Indian motor industry in recent years. As the chart shows (data from the Society of Indian Auto Manufacturers) , the sector has been […]

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Fannie and Freddie lose another $19bn

Senator Dirksen’s great one-liner in the US Senate, “A $bn here, a $bn there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money” is beginning to seem sadly out of date, as the costs of the financial crisis escalate. Today saw the Eurozone announce a €750bn ($936bn) bail-out fund, including €250bn from the IMF, to support its […]

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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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