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CEO confidence falls

CEOs seem to be following CFOs in worrying about the impact of the credit crunch and debt crisis. The annual CEO survey by PwC of 1150 executives shows that fears of a downturn now top their list of concerns. US CEOs are much less confident than a year ago, with only 35% now ‘very confident’ […]

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Selling the rallies

Stock markets are usually good indicators of future economic conditions. Their savage downturn since the start of the year suggests that investors now feel a growth slowdown is almost inevitable. Barrons (the major US investment paper) today highlights another very worrying development. It notes that ‘selling rallies aggressively is (now) more fruitful than buying every […]

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2008 crude outlook

I had the opportunity last night to learn current thinking within the oil industry on the current outlook for oil markets, by attending the annual lecture of the British Institute of Energy Economists, kindly hosted by BP. A year ago, at the same event, the crude price was $51/bbl. Last night, the headlines were ‘major […]

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Financial players increase their bets on crude

Financial investors are already quite disruptive in crude oil markets. And their influence is set to grow this year. That’s the message from surveys by Barclays Global Investors and JP Morgan. $120bn is now invested in commodities as a class, with oil a major target. Even your own pension fund may be about to invest, […]

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$100 crude – US manufacturing close to recession

Oil prices touched $100/bbl today, a new record in nominal and inflation-adjusted terms. At the same time, the US Institute of Supply Management (ISM) index signalled that the manufacturing sector ‘failed to grow in December’, with ‘industries close to the housing market struggling more than others’. All the ISM’s main indicators were negative, with inventories […]

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The renminbi rises

I noted in late November that China’s policy towards its currency might be changing. Now we have evidence of this change, with a rather spectacular 0.9% rise in its value versus the US$ last week. This was the largest weekly gain since it was de-pegged against the $ in July 2005. And it seemed to […]

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What next for the credit crunch?

For the chemical industry, much depends on whether the US economy goes into recession during 2008. The signs are not encouraging, with even former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan believing it is a 50:50 chance. So how would any recession impact the current credit crisis? Writing in the Financial Times their banking editor, Gillian Tett, provides […]

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Moody’s seasonal ‘gift’ for SABIC

Its always interesting to see the news stories that are slipped out just before major public holidays, when media attention is likely to be low. Only ICIS news seemed to spot the announcement by Moody’s that they were placing SABIC Innovative Plastics (the former GE Plastics business) on watch for a potential ratings downgrade. Yet […]

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USA adds $746bn to support housing

Housing, as we know, is an absolutely key market for the chemical industry, both directly and indirectly. Directly, each new house accounts for $16k of chemical demand, whilst indirectly, years of rising western house prices has allowed consumers to cash out their gains to spend on Asian imports. Now this virtuous circle has turned with […]

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2008 economic outlook

Yesterday the European Central Bank opened its doors and lent €349bn to 390 banks seeking to shore up their reserves position for year-end. Will this help solve the credit crunch? Writing today in the Financial Times, their excellent banking editor (Gillian Tett) is doubtful. She worries that ‘the banks know something nasty that we don’t’, […]

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