US, Iran to meet – crude drops $20/bbl

I suggested at the weekend that the Iran issue had the potential to move oil prices by $50/bbl either way. Since then, prices have fallen $20/bbl to $130/bbl, on news that the USA and Iran will meet tomorrow for the first time in nearly 30 years. If they reach agreement on the nuclear issue, oil […]

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Bank of England warns on inflation

Andrew Sentance of the Bank of England has issued a very clear analysis of current oil and commodity price movements. It rejects the view that these have been primarily caused by speculators. Instead, it points to increasing demand, and lack of supply, as the main causes of today’s higher prices. The slide above sums up […]

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US drivers cut back – a little

Yesterday’s US government data on gasoline consumption gives the clearest picture yet of what is happening to US demand. The data compares the 4 weeks covering the July 4 Independence Day weekend, with the same period last year. And it shows gasoline demand was down just 2.1%, even though oil prices have doubled since last […]

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US$5 trillion

Last September, I wrote to the Financial Times on the subject of the US sub-prime disaster. At a time when many banking commentators were trying to minimise the problems, I suggested that ‘a “buyer of last resort”, such as the Federal government, would probably need to emerge if this situation is to be stabilised’. Yesterday, […]

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Oil prices – the Iran factor

Oil price movements are now dominated by the Iranian nuclear issue. Last month, they jumped $10/bbl to $146/bbl as news leaked of Israel’s training exercise against Iran’s nuclear sites. I’ve since talked to someone who was on holiday in Southern Greece at the time, and he says it was an amazing sight – the sky […]

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Travel tips

Business travel occupies a lot of time for many people in the chemical industry. So I thought I might pass on details of 2 websites that I find particularly useful when travelling: • www.skyscanner.net does a very job of comparison shopping on airline fares. • www.weatheronline.co.uk provides excellent local weather forecasts around the world. Please […]

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Dow buys Rohm & Haas

Dow’s potential interest in Rohm & Haas had been much rumoured since December, when it announced the petchem/polymer JV with Kuwait’s PIC. That deal has yet to close, but further evidence of the growing link with Kuwait comes with the news that the Kuwait Investment Authority will invest $1bn as part of Dow’s financing for […]

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Paris fashions – 70% reductions

I’m rather surprised my fellow blogger Barbara has missed this story. Still, it shows us commercial types have a life, too. Bloomberg reports that the economic downturn has caused major cuts in the prices of ‘shoes, bags and dresses’ during the current Paris fashion sales. France’s biggest department stores, Au Printemps and Galeries Lafayette are […]

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European refining margins ‘at 4 year low’

European refining margins are falling, as the US’s need for gasoline imports reduces. Margins have reached a 4 year low of minus $6.21/bbl, according to Bloomberg. And the problem is likely to get worse, as the US moves towards greater self-sufficiency in gasoline via refinery expansions and increased biofuels usage. This trend could have important […]

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The ‘difficult task of damage control’

The central bankers’ bank (the Bank for International Settlements) is not very impressed with its members’ efforts over the past year. Readers may remember that the BIS Report last year explicitly warned of the problems that were about to occur in world financial markets. This year’s Report expresses its disappointment about what central banks did […]

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