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Refining the red-headed stepchild

In the Western world, refining is the red-headed stepchild of the oil, gas and petrochemical business. Companies are either selling, spinning off or shutting down refineries – spurred by near-term profitability issues as well as long-term strategic shifts in direction. The desirability, or more aptly the lack thereof, of these assets is highlighted by LyondellBasell’s […]

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Time to reload the policy guns

Wild swings in global stock markets are emblematic of chaos in the collective mindset. Confusion reigns, and who can blame the participants? Wednesday’s 520 point, or 4.6% decline in the US Dow Jones industrial Average marked a third day of heightened volatility. The market was up 4.0% on Tuesday, after a 5.6% crash on Monday. Caught in […]

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Volatility and reversal

The global economic recovery since we climbed out of the depths of the financial and economic crisis since 2009 has been described by many as a V-shaped recovery, refleting the strong rebound off the lows. But this recovery has also been characterized by volatility – volatility in crude oil prices, metals prices, commodity prices, and […]

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Finally – a US cracker!

In the first of what we believe will be a wave of new investment in North American petrochemical capacity, Chevron Phillips Chemical has unveiled the first plans for a worldscale grassroots ethylene cracker in the US to take advantage of abundant supplies of shale gas. Recognize this as a watershed event. This is the first […]

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Small part, big deal

The economic impact from Japan’s crisis is beginning to be felt across the globe. Supply chain disruptions in the automotive and electronics sectors will take a bite out of chemical company profits in North America and Europe. One component in the supply chain can have a significant impact. For example, a shortage of engine-related micro […]

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Japan’s coming reconstruction

The unimaginable tragedy that struck Japan in the form of the record-magnitude earthquake and tsunami, compounded by the ongoing nuclear crisis, presents one of the greatest challenges ever for the nation. The images of the destruction and impact it is having on the people are heartbreaking, and we hope the country will recover soon and […]

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Not time to be a contrarian yet!

Contrarian minds might think it’s nigh time to sell the chemical group when the term “supercycle” enters the investment lexicon. But dare I say it? This time it’s different! Robust petrochemical and polymer margins and talk of a “stronger-for-longer” upcycle are typically late-cycle phenomena. Such forecasts came out in full force in early 2005 – […]

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The “new” LyondellBasell powerhouse

For our last issue of 2010, December 13, we are pleased to unveil the ICIS Top 40 Power Players – the most influential people in the global chemical markets. In a year of recovery, the rising tide has lifted many boats out of the maelstrom of 2009, but some firms will emerge stronger than others. […]

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Fear not the QE2 backlash

Nothing lasts forever. You never know what’s going to derail a fantastic bull run – at least temporarily. After unimpeded optimism over several months fueled by the continuing global economic recovery, some serious concerns are coming out of the woodwork. Expectations for an interest rate hike in China to tame growing inflation threw cold water […]

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Chemical earnings engine roars

As they say in US NASCAR racing – gentlemen, start your engines! After a blip down in world stock markets on Tuesday, October 19, sparked by China’s quarter-point hike of a key interest rate as well as continuing fears in the US about the consequences of an ongoing investigation into improper foreclosures, bourses were back in the […]

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