Tag Archives | Europe

Time to look forward, not back, for European petrochemicals

The European petrochemicals industry is in crisis.  Operating rates dropped below 85% in H2 2008, and have never recovered.  Now there is a danger that it faces death by a thousand cuts.  This would be a tragedy for the European economy, as it would imply the loss of tens of thousands of well-paid jobs along […]

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Benzene markets suggest BabyBoomer growth will not reappear

Benzene has always been one of the blog’s favourite leading indicators for the global economy.  The reason is simple, in that it has been around a long time, and is now used in a very wide range of industries.  So it provides us with a broad-based picture of the global economy. The chart above highlights another important […]

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EU auto sales at lowest-ever level, with average car used only 1 hour per day

Europe goes on holiday during August, so we have to wait – with not quite breathless anticipation – until September to see official ACEA auto sales figures for July and August. Unfortunately, they contained no real surprises.  July (red square) managed a small increase versus 2012 levels (green line), but August sales then fell back […]

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Extra selling days support EU April auto sales

Good news about EU auto sales is always welcome, especially when it comes after 17 months of declining sales. Thus the blog is happy to note that April’s sales rose 1.7% versus 2012. Equally, however, it has to report the commentary of Europe’s auto association (ACEA): “The region counted on average two more working days […]

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Europe’s social shock-absorbers show crisis strain

Readers outside Southern Europe may not realise the growing crisis that is developing across the region. As Unilever CEO Paul Polman warned in January, “the biggest issue in Europe is going to be social cohesion”. Similarly, his colleague, Jan Zijderveld, European head, warned back in August that “poverty is returning to Europe”. Zijderveld also highlighted […]

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Risks rise over China’s auto sales

The world’s 3 major auto markets – USA, Europe and China – currently account for ~70% of global sales. And as the chart above shows, H1 performance has been volatile over the 2005-11 period: • 2005 was the last year of the US subprime boom, and the US (red) was easily the largest market with […]

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Shale gas supports US PVC exports

Yesterday the blog discussed caustic soda, and the recent importance of China’s metal demand. Today it focuses on chlorine and PVC. PVC is the largest end-use for chlorine. It is also critical for chloralkali producers when caustic demand is strong, as recently. Chlorine itself cannot be safely stored in large volumes, and so instead they […]

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US exports to China fall, as cost advantage grows

US petchem producers are planning a major boost to ethylene capacity. They now have the 2nd cheapest feedstock in the world, due to ethane from shale gas. The only question is, where will they sell their product? Ethylene, of course, is very expensive to export. So derivatives such as polyethylene (PE) are the main way […]

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China’s subsidy end boosts September’s auto sales

Auto sales in the key global markets of China, USA and Europe present a mixed picture as we look towards year-end (red square): • China had a strong September, and sales are now up 6% versus 2010 • But the Auto Association claimed this was due to a last minute rush of orders caused by […]

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Europe sees 2-speed performance on auto sales

The blog is changing its chart for EU auto sales. The aim is to better show seasonal trends, and also enable easy comparison with US sales. It now shows sales by month, since 2005. Performance in 2007 (green line) and 2010 (brown) is highlighted, as this represents the peaks and troughs. January’s 1 million sales […]

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