“Will he, won’t he?” That was the only question in oil markets last week. On Wednesday, US Fed chairman Ben Bernanke seemed to suggest that QE3 might arrive, to follow on from his QE2 ‘LifeBoat’ for the economy. As the chart shows, oil prices leapt $3/bbl within 2 hours as he spoke. But then Bernanke’s […]
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The start of a new half-year usually provides an excuse for the investment banks to publish bullish notes on oil markets. We discuss their role in Chapter 3 of Boom, Gloom and the New Normal, to be published later this month. Thus Goldman Sachs last week suggested oil markets will become “critically tight” in 2012, […]
The last week of a half-year period often sees greater volatility in financial markets, as players rush to position themselves for client reporting. This was most obvious in stock markets, with the US S&P 500 Index (pink dotted line) staging a 5% rally during the week. Brent crude oil (blue dash) eventually ended unchanged versus […]
The IeC Downturn Alert launched on 2 May. Later that day, the US S&P 500 – the world’s most important stock index – hit a post-Crisis high of 1370. Last Friday, it closed down 7% at 1268 (purple dotted line above). Many expect this to be just a minor correction, and still believe a new […]
Buyers’ behaviour has changed completely since the IeC Downturn Alert launched 7 weeks ago. ICIS news reported Friday a large polypropylene consumer commenting: “I am not buying a lot, just one or two trucks at a time. I kept a high stock level when prices were going up, so now I am using that up. […]
When the blog launched its IeC Downturn Alert in early May, it noted that “they don’t ring bells at market turning points”. However, it hoped that the Alert would provide a replacement. It seems to be doing its job. As the chart above shows, prices for all the products highlighted are now down between 9% […]
It is now 5 weeks since the IeC Downturn Alert was launched. The chart above therefore updates the blog’s regular review of financial markets, showing how these have moved over the same period. Most are down around 4%-5%. Russia is the worst performer (down 8%) and Brazil the best (down 3%). But government bond prices […]
Week 5 of the IeC Downturn Alert saw more stability in the markets. This was largely due to the efforts of the major investment banks. JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley all issued ‘buy’ notes on crude oil, suggesting prices would soon return to $130/bbl, whilst Barclays said its current $102/bbl forecast was “conservative”. […]
It is now 4 weeks since the blog launched its IeC Downturn Alert. Since then, as the chart shows (based on ICIS pricing reports): • Brent (blue dotted line) is down 11% • Naphtha (red) is down 13% in Europe • Benzene (green) is down 9% in Europe • HDPE export (purple) is down 7% […]
Two years ago, the blog began to survey global stock markets on what turned out to be the day they began their major rally. Its end-April launch of Downturn Alert may prove similarly fortuitous. Since then (shaded area), Brent crude oil is down 8%. Similarly naphtha is down 11%, benzene down 2%, HDPE 6% and […]
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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.