The blog fears the storm discussed last month is getting closer. Oil prices have weakened, with Brent falling $7/bbl last week to $113/bbl as Iran worries reduced. Attention is thus refocusing on the fundamentals, where US oil inventories are now at 21-year highs. We may therefore be about to discover that high oil prices have […]
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It is almost a year since the blog launched its IeC Downturn Monitor. The aim was to try and avoid the problems seen in H2 2008, when operating rates remained high down the value chain whilst demand fell. The above chart shows the weekly changes in its 4 benchmark products from 1 January, with movements […]
Last week saw yet another example of the damage being caused to financial markets by the computerised high-frequency traders (HFTs). As the chart shows, the S&P 500 jumped 20 points on Thursday (1.5%), whilst the Dow Jones Industrial average jumped over 200 points. The cause was a rumour that China’s GDP would come in at […]
It is hard to be very optimistic about the demand outlook for Q2. Demand in Q1 was lacklustre, even though it should have been the strongest quarter of the year. H1 is seasonally strong, and Q1 also benefited from Easter being in Q2. Equally, the Chinese holidays fell in January, so February and March should […]
Finally, and far too late, policy makers are waking up to the damage that today’s high oil prices are doing to the global economy. Q1′s oil price averaged $119/bbl, just 7% below Q2 2008′s record $127/bbl ($2012). Thus Saudi Oil Minister, Ali Naimi, last week told the Financial Times: “High international oil prices are bad […]
The blog is very pleased to have been invited to contribute to the Financial Times’ new FT Data blog. Its first post looks at benzene’s excellent forecasting record during the current crisis. It also looks at what PTA may be telling us about the strength of China’s economy. Please click here if you would like […]
Q1 should have been a strong quarter for global petchem demand: • Buyers had to restock in the New Year, as CFOs had cut working capital for year-end reasons • In the West, Easter is delayed until April, and the USA has benefited from the warmest winter in 50 years • China’s holidays took place […]
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,And sorry I could not travel both“ The opening of Robert Frost’s famous poem ‘The road not taken’ aptly sums up today’s market situation:•Financial markets continue to be supported by the Fed’s Operation Twist•Petchem markets are slowing in reaction to weaker consumer spendingBoth of them cannot be right. Either […]
As regular readers know, the blog regards benzene as an excellent leading indicator for petchem markets and the global economy. Its track record since the start of the crisis in 2008 has continued to be strong. The reason is probably two-fold: • It is one of the oldest, and widely used, chemicals. In many ways […]
The March IeC Boom/Gloom Index confirms the blog’s sense that markets are sitting on a fence, waiting for something to happen. As the chart shows (blue column), it has risen back to 4.1, just at the point which divides strong from weak markets. Similarly the US S&P 500 Index (red line) is stuck at 1369, […]
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Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry.
The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry over the next 12 – 18 months. It will try to look behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in important issues such oil prices, economic growth and the environment. We may also have some fun, investigating a few of the more offbeat events that take place from time to time. Please do join me and share your thoughts.
Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.