Aromatics Conference ‘Early Bird’ discount till next week

Registrations are already building for our 9th European Aromatics and Derivatives Conference, to be held in Berlin on 23-24 November. Co-organised as always with ICIS, it features a strong line-up of industry speakers including: • Shell Chemicals, Sven Royall, VP Intermediates on ‘What next for Aromatics’? • Ralf Kuhlmann (former Business Director, ExxonMobil Chemicals and […]

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Lower refining rates support EU petchem margins

Sometimes every cloud does have a silver lining. And that’s currently the case with the fall in demand for oil products. The European petchem industry is based on feedstock from refineries such as naphtha and LPG. And as the chart above from the IEA shows, German refinery runs, like others elsewhere in Europe, are down […]

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Oil prices weaken as inventories continue to build

Oil markets are an accident waiting to happen for the chemical industry. Oil inventories around the world are close to record levels, with the IEA (International Energy Agency) reporting they are over 61 days of demand. Equally, as the Petromatrix chart above shows, they are at record levels in the USA (the world’s largest market), […]

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Baby-Boomers cut spending, start saving

Consumer spending is 70% of US GDP. And because US GDP is so large, this means the US consumer is 17% of global GDP. This is the same as the combined GDP of China and Japan, who rank 2 and 3 after the USA. So a change in US consumer spending matters. And it particularly […]

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Brainstorming on biomass

The blog has come across a useful new tool for global brainstorming, run out of San Francisco by DiscoveryCast. They have recently organised a major event with Paris-based SpecialChem to review the current state of play in bio-based initiatives. This involved a group of 550 experts from 400 companies (including 3M, Dow, Michelin, DuPont, Arkema, […]

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US 3 year interest rates back to 1940’s levels

High quality 3 year government bond yields are now less than 1%, as shown in the above chart from thechartstore.com of the US Treasury market. US rates have not been this low since the 1940’s and 1950’s. This has also led to a major rally in corporate bonds, based on increasing fears of a double-dip […]

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Interpreting trader talk

Current financial and chemical market volatility is a bonanza for good traders, as it gives them more opportunity to take positions, up or down. However, having traded on behalf of a chemical major in Houston, Texas, the blog knows from personal experience that not all traders get all their positions right, all of the time. […]

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The Drawn-Out Downtrend phase of the Crisis begins

“Humankind cannot bear very much reality” TS Eliot, 4 Quartets, 1936 Who now remembers the stock market rally that followed 1929’s initial collapse? By November 1929, the US Dow Jones Index had fallen to 195 from its September high of 386. But by April it had rallied 52% to 297. At the time, this seemed […]

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US junk bond issue hits record as GDP slows

As noted by a blog reader last week, retail investors are throwing caution to the winds. Unwilling, or unable, to adjust their lifestyles to cope with lower interest rates on government bonds, they have rushed to instead buy higher-yielding ‘junk bonds’. These are less than normal ‘investment’ grade, and offer increased yield in exchange for […]

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Global power shift to the East a “half-truth”

An interesting opinion piece in today’s China Daily suggests the concept that “the next few years will see a dramatic acceleration in the shift of global economic powers eastward” is “at best, a half-truth“. Yu Zhongwen notes that this theory has gained ground in recent years, as the media have speculated that “with a combined […]

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