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US auto sales start to bottom

The blog may be over-optimistic, but as with US house markets, it is hopeful that US auto market may have hit at least a temporary bottom. Spring should be a good period for sales, and March saw auto volumes down 37% versus 2008. This was a relatively good performance after February’s 41% decline, but still […]

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Dow’s Morton sale shows it can still negotiate

The blog still finds it hard to adjust to Dow Chemical’s current financial status, following the K-Dow/Rohm & Haas episode. But facts speak for themselves. Earlier this week, S&P lowered Dow’s debt rating to just above junk grade, on completion of the R&H deal. However, news that Dow has sold R&H’s Morton Salt to Germany’s […]

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G-20 prepares for London meeting

Leaders of the G-20 represent 85% of the global economy, and 65% of world population. Set up by Finance Ministers after the Asian crisis in 1997/8, they first met at Heads of Government level in the USA last November. Sadly, although their communiqué was filled with earnest promises, few of these have since been enacted. […]

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US house prices below 1979 levels in real terms

Source: Chartoftheday.com US house prices remain on a “downward path” according to today’s latest S&P Case-Shiller house price index. S&P report that in terms of nominal prices (including inflation), “average home prices across the US are now at similar levels to late 2003″. In ‘real terms’ (after excluding inflation), the picture is even worse. According […]

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Obama gets tough on US auto industry

There had been speculation that President Obama’s mid-West background might tempt him to take a soft line on the troubled automotive industry. But his comments on Thursday that there has been “a lot of mismanagement of the auto industry over the past several years”, suggested this was unlikely. Today’s news confirms it: • GM’s CEO […]

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US housing market decline may start to slow

US new home sales began falling in 2005, when they peaked at 1.4 million a month. Last month, as the above chart from the ACC weekly report shows, they were down to just 337,000. Similarly, new home inventory has risen to 12 months. Each new home uses over $16k of chemicals, so this decline has […]

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Congress ends ‘mark to market’

Last month, the blog supported former US Treasury Secretary Brady’s argument that ‘mark to market’ accounting rules were helping to worsen the current financial crisis. It therefore welcomes the decision by the US Financial Accounting Standards Board to revise its rules with effect from April 2. It applauds Paul Kanjorski, chair of the relevant House […]

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US oil stocks rise, demand drops, prices rise

Oil prices have been rising steadily over the past few weeks, and are up 20% since the start of the year. Yet US oil inventories have also been rising, and are now at their highest level since July 1993. Stocks have risen in 22 of the last 26 weeks. Whilst OPEC production cuts have certainly […]

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Japan’s exports fall record 49%, China builds inventory

Japan’s auto exports tumbled 71% in February, and its US exports fell 58%, causing total exports to decline 49%. Imports also fell 43%. Exports to China, however, were ‘only’ down 40%. And other NEA exporters, more dependent on Chinese markets, showed an improving position. S Korea’s exports were only down 17%, versus -34% in January. […]

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Low-cost operation key to survival

ICIS Chemical Business has just published my article, ‘Low-cost operation key to survival’, which discusses business strategies for surviving the downturn. Please click here if you would like a copy. You can also hear a radio interview with ICB Deputy Editor, Will Beacham, by clicking here, or read Will’s summary of the interview in ICIS […]

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