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The Boom/Gloom Index©

Markets are driven by two factors, sentiment and fundamentals. Fundamentals can be followed by analysing hard data. In chemical markets, for example, key areas include new housing starts, auto sales, industrial production, Asian exports, etc. This data can also be used to make forward projections. However, sentiment is equally important, as it tells us what […]

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Soccer star Ronaldo sold for £80m (€94m, $130m)

The European soccer transfer market is a good example of a market where sentiment often outweighs fundamentals. Research by London’s Cass Business School shows that transfer fees have only a 16% correlation with success on the pitch. They found that salaries were the key driver, accounting for 92% of variation in league position. Spain’s Real […]

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Aromatics feedstocks: ‘Back to the Future’

For the past 40 years, the aromatics industry has usually had to ‘bid away’ its feedstock from the octane and gasoline pool. The only exception took place in S Korea during the early 1990′s, when local gasoline demand was low. This gave the new S Korean paraxylene (PX) producers the lowest cost base in the […]

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Vitol warns on current oil prices

Vitol are one of the world’s largest oil traders. Thus the blog was interested to see their CEO, Ian Taylor, suggesting that the recent rise in oil prices “does not sit comfortably with the currently available supply and demand data”. According to ICIS news, Taylor went on to note: • Oil demand fell 3m bbl/day […]

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Dow Corning focus on efficiency, innovation

Margins and volumes are under enormous pressure in most chemical markets. And as noted in the 2009 Outlook, companies need to develop an imaginative response to the pricing issues that they face. They also need to maintain faith in the future by continuing to innovate. Thus the blog was pleased to be invited to Dow […]

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US unemployment hits 9.4%

The US unemployment rate is now at its second highest level since records began in 1948. It was only higher in the early 1980′s, at 10.9% in December 1982. It rose last month to 9.4%, and is now above the May 1975 peak of 9%. The only positive sign is that the pace of job […]

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V-shaped sellers meet L-shaped buyers

Picture: www.businessoffashion.com A senior figure in the investment community told the blog recently that companies’ views on the outlook for the economy seemed to vary according to their own financial position: “the stronger the balance sheet, the more realistic (and worse) the view on the economy”. This analysis was confirmed at an interesting M&A Round […]

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Germany attacks central bank policy

During the growth years, it became fashionable for politicians to claim that central banks were “independent”. But as the current crisis has grown, this has been increasingly exposed as a myth. As the blog noted back in September 2007, Alan Greenspan (former US Federal Reserve Chairman), revealed that ‘the presumption that we were fully independent […]

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Difficult decisions loom on future US auto demand

By the end of May last year, 6.2m autos had been sold in the US market, each containing $2700 of chemicals (according to the ACC). The total sales value to the chemical industry was $16.8bn. So far this year, just 3.9m autos have been sold, with a value of $10.7bn. Recent downturns have always seen […]

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Markets in Wonderland

Picture: www.amazon.com “Sometimes, I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast” said the Queen in Lewis Carroll’s famous book, ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Today would have been a good day for her to practise this ability, as she read her newspaper: GM, once the world’s largest auto manufacturer, went into bankruptcy. US stock markets […]

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