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To cut, or not to cut?

One of the benefits of writing this blog is that it provides the opportunity to research behind the headlines, and better understand what is really happening. Friday’s US payrolls report, which showed the first loss of US jobs for 4 years, is a classic example. Nobody in the chemical industry should have been too surprised […]

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OPEC and the IEA

The war of words between OPEC (the oil producers’ club) and the International Energy Agency (the rich countries energy watchdog), has intensified this week, ahead of the next OPEC Ministerial meeting scheduled for 11 September. Claude Mandil, director general of the IEA, told Arab Oil and Gas ‘the market has become aware’ that OPEC ‘has […]

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Thursday’s child has far to go

The past two Thursdays have seen extraordinary things happen in financial markets. Last Thursday, BNP Paribas suspended redemptions on 3 of its funds, forcing the ECB to inject €95bn of liquidity into the financial system. Yesterday, the largest US mortgage lender, Countrywide Financial, had to raise an emergency €11.5bn loan in order to continue trading, […]

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Rolling thunder and Penn Square Bank

When I worked with ChemConnect in the halcyon days of the dot-com era in 1999-2000, we had a fantastic PR lady called Linda Stegeman. Linda ignored conventional wisdom about ‘bundling’ all your best news together to gain maximum impact. Instead, she released the stories one by one, and let them build. First Dow and Rohm […]

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US auto sales catch subprime fallout

Two of the largest US auto manufacturers, GM and Ford, have now followed Wal-Mart and Tesco’s lead in detecting a change in consumer sentiment. GM, after announcing particularly strong Q2 Asian and emerging market sales, added that US sales declined 7% as a result of ‘increasing fuel prices and concerns about housing’. Ford said that […]

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Regional markets at price parity again

An interesting thing has happened to benzene markets, which I haven’t seen noted elsewhere. According to ICIS pricing, average prices last week in Europe, US Gulf and Asia were $1053/t, $1052/t and $1040/t respectively. Compare that with a year ago. Then, Europe was at $1220/t, USG at $1135/t and Asia at $1010/t. So we have […]

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NINJA turtles ride again

The head of Germany’s financial regulator is warning that US subprime mortgage problems may be about to lead to the worst banking crisis since 1931. Yesterday, WTI crude broke through its 1980’s highs to hit a new all-time record price of $78.77/bbl, and looks poised to push on past $80/bbl. And adding to the sense […]

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Oil prices and the euro

The US dollar has been falling steadily in recent weeks. It is particularly weak against the euro, having fallen almost 5% since January. OPEC countries buy much more from the eurozone than from the US, and the OPEC President has said they are ‘concerned’ about dollar weakness. We probably need to start monitoring oil prices […]

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2008 Budgets just became more difficult to finalise

Central bankers are like generals. They seem to prefer fighting their last war, rather than preparing for the next one. How else to explain their continued reluctance to recognise that higher food and energy prices are here to stay? As a result, interest rates now need to rise more than expected. Pity those who have […]

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‘Its the price that matters’: Wal-Mart and Tesco signal a major change in consumer priorities

Consumer attitudes have shifted sharply in recent weeks. This could have big implications for chemical companies, and they need to respond quickly.

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