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Boom/Gloom Index remains range-bound

The momentum-driven rally in financial markets has slowed recently, with many now in temporary trading ranges. And this is reflected in December’s IeC Boom/Gloom Index (above). The Index (blue column) has been steady since June. Underlying fundamentals show no sign of improvement. The ‘green shoots’ index (green line), which tracks expectations for a quick economic […]

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1 in 4 US children on food stamp aid

Wall Street may be paying out $bns in bonuses. But in the rest of the USA, rising unemployment and foreclosure are having a major impact. In a new analysis, the New York Times reveals that the Federal food stamp programme “now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children“. Renamed the Supplemental […]

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China’s polyethylene imports surge 63%

The above chart, courtesy of trade data experts GTIS, shows the extraordinary leap in China’s polyethylene imports this year. They have surged 63% January – October in 2009 (blue bar) to 6.7 million tonnes versus 4.2 MT in 2007 (green bar) and 2008 (orange bar). Many countries have seen massive rises. Iran exported 404kt vs […]

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Wise words from Shell, BASF and Reliance

In difficult times, the industry looks to the major companies for their advice. And they certainly provided this at our 8th European Conference (co-organised with ICIS), Shell’s Jonathan Forbes-Lane, European GM, focused on the “gale-force recession” now underway. He expected “prices to stay volatile and unpredictable because they were being pulled in opposing directions by […]

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Teesside’s 10-point plan for UK government

The blog congratulates Teesside’s industry leaders on their 10-point plan to safeguard the future of the area’s chemical industry. They have worked very quickly since the initiative was established last month. Clearly, self-help can only take the industry so far, in today’s crisis. It is clearly right that government support should also be provided. The […]

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Drucker’s 5 key questions in a downturn

Peter Drucker wrote some of the most useful, and widely read, books on management. The title of one of his main works, ‘Management, Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices’, sums up his serious approach to the role. This month is the centenary of his birth, and the Financial Times marks it with a report of a celebratory conference […]

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Floating oil storage increases again

Oil markets are looking increasingly uncertain as we come to year-end. One example of this is a new survey of floating storage by oil brokers, Gibson. This found 42 ships in use, up from the 29 seen in September. Normal levels are just 5 – 7 vessels. Another is OPEC’s weaker discipline on quotas, which […]

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European ethylene margins slip as oil prices rise

The excellent ICIS European margin report for ethylene shows an interesting picture this week. The chart above compares contract margins based on naphtha (red line) and LPG (yellow line) feedstock. Both have been slipping since September, when they peaked at €398/t and €357/t respectively. This week, they are over 40% lower, at €232/t and €208/t. […]

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US housing remains weak as unemployment rises

The US housing market was worth $35bn a year in terms of chemical sales in 2006. In that Boom year, 2.2m homes were built, each using $16k of chemicals. But as the chart above shows, from the ACC’s weekly report, there has been a steady decline since then. The recent introduction of the $8000 first-time […]

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Reliance offers c$10bn for LyondellBasell (Update 1)

LyondellBasell (LBI) yesterday confirmed the rumoured takeover bid from Reliance. In a statement posted on its website, it says it has “received a preliminary non-binding offer from Reliance Industries Limited to acquire for cash a controlling interest in the company contemporaneously with the company’s emergence from Chapter 11 reorganization“. It noted “this offer is in […]

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