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China freezes energy costs, bans plastic bags

Reaction to $100 oil has been swift. Yesterday, the Chinese State Council decided to freeze the prices of oil products, natural gas and electricity, as well as public transportation. A measure of the government’s concern is that the meeting to approve the freeze was attended by premier Wen Jiabao. Chinese inflation is now at 6.9% […]

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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 yuan also rises

Bloomberg reports today that China’s yuan has now risen 12% against the US$, since the dollar peg was scrapped in July 2005. And the rise is accelerating, with the currency up 6% so far this year. Significantly, China’s Commerce Minister Chen Deming said that the yuan’s rise ‘fits China’s economic needs’. A strong exchange rate […]

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OPEC targets stocks, not prices

There is some interesting material on the OPEC website, following this week’s Summit, which clarifies their current strategy. The key points are: • OPEC is currently targeting inventories, not prices. Their policy is to keep OECD crude stocks within the 5 year average. OPEC says its previous production cutbacks ‘minimised the excessive overhangs that existed […]

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The US$ just keeps on falling

A recent Financial Times article commented on the 93% correlation this year between changes in the ¥ / € rate and global stock market movements. It showed that during 2007, whenever the euro has risen against the yen, stocks have also risen, and vice versa. This could be interesting background info for anyone who dabbles […]

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5 risks to 2008 budgets

The consensus viewpoint is an easy way of keeping up to speed on a variety of issues outside one’s daily experience. But the signs are that the consensus may be leading to complacency, when it comes to the assumptions being used to finalise 2008 budgets. There are a number of areas where some new thinking […]

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China worries over US$ fall

Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, spent his trip to Singapore yesterday expressing concern over the fall in the US$. ‘“We have never been experiencing such big pressure. We are worried about how to preserve the value of our reserves,’ he said. In a separate interview, Mr Wen then went further, stating ‘We will increase the […]

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Uncertainty rules

Our annual European conference, organised with ICIS, always provides an excellent opportunity to gain a snapshot of industry views as we move into a new year. At this week’s event in Antwerp, Belgium, the prevailing mood was uncertainty, for the first time since 2002: • Oil prices are high, and volatile. This makes it difficult […]

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TOTAL’s new CEO warns on oil supplies

Christophe de Margerie, the new TOTAL CEO, has burst the bubble of complacency that has surrounded discussion of future oil supply. The ‘business as usual’ forecasts of both the International Energy Agency and the US government assume that the world will be producing c120m bbls/day by 2030. But de Margerie said he wished to ‘speak […]

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Supermodels prefer euros

Gisele Bundchen, the world’s richest supermodel, has joined the list of those who refuse to be paid in US dollars. As a Brazilian, she has had plenty of experience to help her recognise a depreciating currency. According to Bloomberg, she even insisted that a recent contract with US-based Proctor and Gamble for ‘Pantene’ hair products […]

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