Archive | February, 2011


Oil prices – the Libya factor

The blog’s recent White Paper, ‘Budgeting for Uncertainty’, warned that “geo-political issues have been quiet recently, but the potential for Middle Eastern conflict cannot be ignored, with its potential to impact oil supply and prices“. Just a few weeks later, they have now taken centre stage.Libya is the main issue, and events there are being […]

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New Normal seminar successful in Singapore

The blog has had an exciting time in Singapore this week. 21 delegates had registered for the first-ever New Normal seminar, and we had a fantastic range of expertise in the room. Attendees came from China, India and Saudi Arabia, as well as from South East Asia. And they represented a wide range of industries, […]

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OECD indicators signal slower growth

The OECD’s leading indicators for the global economy suggest that GDP growth is continuing to slow. As the above chart from the American Chemistry Council shows, the OECD’s three key indicators have all slipped from H1 2010’s peaks. The composite indicator (blue) has fallen sharply to +5% from +13%, whilst industrial production (red) is down […]

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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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Asia’s olefin margins weaken vs Europe, USA

The ICIS weekly margin reports continue to provide essential reading for anyone in the petrochemical value chain. The above chart is particularly fascinating, as it highlights the significant differences between cracker margins on a regional basis over the past 2 years: • Europe (red column) is the clear winner over the period. Its margin bottomed […]

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US households worry about incomes

The fascinating chart above from Dave Rosenberg at Gluskin Sieff confirms the blog’s fears above the impact of today’s high oil prices on US consumer spending. It shows that consumers in the world’s wealthiest econony have very low expectations for their real income. These are now at the 4th lowest level since the survey began. […]

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China battles food and house price inflation

When China announced that inflation had reached 5.1% in November, the authorities insisted it was only a temporary peak. But this seems less likely today, with January’s inflation still at 4.9%. The surge in food prices is very worrying. They jumped 10.3%. And with a major drought underway in the North East, there is a […]

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Housing markets remain uncertain

The blog’s special series this week has focused on housing in 3 key markets – the USA, UK and China. Housing is a core sector for chemical and polymer demand, and it has been particularly important over the past 30 years: • The Western BabyBoomers (those born between 1946-70) have been in the 25 – […]

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China seeks ‘soft landing’ for house prices

Housing’s share of China’s GDP has tripled over the past decade to 6%. This, of course, has stimulated demand for chemical and polymers. But as the Bloomberg chart shows, it is also worryingly close (blue line) to the peaks seen in the USA (black line) and, before then, Japan (dotted line). The rise has been […]

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UK house prices slip in H2

UK housing markets followed the US lead in recent decades. Conservative and Labour governments both shared a belief in extending property ownership as widely as possible. But what neither foresaw was the ‘unintended consequence’. Their policy of boosting home ownership coincided with the entry of the BabyBoom generation (those born between 1946-70) into the 25 […]

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