World Bank warns on China growth

The World Bank has cut its growth forecast for China’s GDP to just 7.5% next year. Only 3 months ago, it was expecting 9.2%. And the Bank warns that the economy is dependent on “higher public spending” for more than half its forecast growth next year. Chemical companies will also be alarmed by the Bank’s […]

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UK cuts sales tax to fight deflation

The UK’s Finance Minister, Alistair Darling, was the first western leader to warn that the current recession was the worst in 60 years. He was also the first to effectively nationalise major banks, to stave off their collapse. Now he has become the first to try to tackle the real threat of deflation, by cutting […]

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The end of the beginning

Last week’s BASF announcement marked the end of Phase One of the downturn. This began over a year ago, with the first signs of financial crisis. Now, we will move into Phase Two – a long, multi-year recession, which will probably include several bear-market rallies. The end of this “beginning” Phase is seeing a disastrous […]

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10 European crackers offline

My colleague Bob Townsend is well known to many in the chemical industry as an olefins expert. He has pointed out today’s most unusual situation in olefins. Normally, an unplanned outage by one or more crackers would cause major disruption. Yet today, 10 European crackers are down, for technical or other reasons, and many others […]

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Benzene hits a floor

Regular readers of the blog will know that it believes price movements in benzene have great predictive power. This is due to the fact that benzene is one of the oldest of the major chemicals, and has the widest industrial usage. Thus in March, when benzene prices hit a “ceiling”, the blog noted this was […]

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BASF sees “massive decline”

6 weeks ago, I warned that “the scariest moment of my 30 year chemical career” was about to be repeated. This had been in 1980, when “for some weeks it seemed that demand for many petchem products had simply stopped”. Three weeks later, the blog confirmed that “the moment it had long feared has now […]

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US equities and crude oil follow each other

An interesting note from PetroMatrix highlights the close linkage that has now developed between changes in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and WTI crude oil prices. The chart, showing market action on Thursday, makes the point very clearly. PetroMatrix’s analysis suggests that “the correlation across asset classes remains very strong and there is little diversification […]

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LyondellBasell debt downgraded, INEOS seeks waivers

Current market conditions are causing problems for everyone in the chemical industry. But as the blog has long feared, they are particularly testing those companies with higher debt levels. On Friday, Moody’s announced a downgrading of the Corporate Family Rating of Lyondell Basell Industries to B3 to B1, and said the outlook “remains negative”. Yesterday, […]

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A low-key G-20 meeting

The first-ever G-20 meeting of Heads of State was a relatively quiet event, without the presence of President-elect Obama. Two main areas seem to have been discussed: • Regulatory reform, where finance ministers have been given until the end of March to work out new rules for the world’s financial markets • Fiscal stimulus, where […]

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IEA says “world’s energy system at crossroads”

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is the global energy watchdog. Its new annual report, just published, says “the world’s energy system is at a crossroads”, and adds that “current global trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable”. As examples, it highlights: • The world will need 45 mb/d of new capacity (4 times […]

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