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High frequency trading causes another mini-crash

Do any blog readers routinely trade on the basis of Twitter comments? Or more specifically, do any trade within milliseconds of receiving a tweet? The answer of course is “no”, as readers have no ability to trade in milliseconds. But last week the computers did just that. As the Financial Times chart shows, the US […]

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Aluminium prices rise as stocks reach record levels

The blog was with the mining industry last week, when giving the keynote speech on The Impact of the ‘Demographic Cliff’ on Demand Patterns at the annual Metal-Pages conference. Mining is seeing similar demand patterns to those in chemicals, whilst the price performance of aluminium shows very similar influences to those at work in oil […]

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Commodities supercycle myth enters the end-game

If something seems to be ‘too good to be true’, then it usually is. This may be the learning for the world’s largest pension funds, as they plan their next moves in commodity investment. Their involvement jumped from 2009 after central banks began stimulus programmes, as the blog discussed last month. The funds were looking […]

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Polyester markets head for crisis as cotton prices crash

Cotton prices, as the chart shows, have returned to the 50c-70c/lb range that has dominated since 1982. This proves, once again, that ‘reversion to the mean’ is usually the best investment strategy. Sadly, however, it is the people who did not believe the hype around higher prices who will have to pick up the pieces, […]

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US oil inventories remain near record levels

Once upon a time, financial markets reflected supply and demand balances. Some players, the speculators, would use them to try and anticipate changes in these balances. Some players, the producers and consumers, used them to help stabilise their margins. From time to time, the balance between the stabilisers and the speculators would be lost. Markets […]

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Q3 results show companies cautious over the outlook

6 months ago, when reporting Q1 results, the blog strongly disagreed with the rosy outlook being offered by most analysts. It warned then that: “The history of the past 40 years shows high oil prices have always led to: • An initial boom in volumes/margin as buyers rush to secure supplies • Then a period […]

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EU’s PE industry could benefit from cluster strategy

Europe’s polyethylene (PE) trade presents a fascinating patchwork, based on its geographic and historical trading position, overlaid with its multi-ownership structure. This is highlighted in the above chart (based based on trade data for the January-August period from Global Trade Information Services, the leading global supplier). It shows net trade (exports less imports) for the […]

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“This is far worse than the banking crisis of 2008″

Long-standing readers will remember that then-UK Finance Minister Alastair Darling was the first Western politician to recognise in August 2008 the disaster that was about to hit financial markets. Now out of office, his warning today therefore deserves the widest possible discussion around the world: “I despair of the way in which EU leaders are […]

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The Downturn arrives

It is 5 months since the blog launched its IeC Downturn Alert, using prices from 29 April. It wrote then that: “They don’t ring bells at market turning points. Otherwise, we could all retire to the Bahamas.” But its argument was that a peak was likely, as crude oil had remained stable at $125/bbl for […]

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Bayer, Shell and Styrolution to speak in Amsterdam

Our 10th European Aromatics and derivatives conference will take place on 22-23 November. Co-organised with ICIS, it provides an excellent opportunity for delegates to meet up and exchange views in the critical end-of-year period. It features the usual strong line-up of speakers: Patrick Thomas, CEO of Bayer Material Science, will talk about the outlook from […]

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