Archive | June, 2011

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CEOs start to warn on the outlook

European ethylene contract prices (CP) can be excellent indicators of profitability trends in the industry. Buyers were caught short during December, as inventories had been run down for year-end reasons. So when crude prices started rising, they had to rush to cover their positions. The panic was particularly strong as most companies had set sales […]

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Speculators begin to leave crude oil markets

Speculators, assisted by the US Federal Reserve, have driven crude oil prices to unsustainable levels over the past year. Now, the Fed is withdrawing the liquidity that has financed this rise. The above chart from Petromatrix shows the surge in crude oil speculation on the Chicago futures market since August. The light blue line shows […]

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Boom, Gloom and the New Normal – Chapter 2 published today

Chapter 2 of Boom, Gloom and the New Normal is published today. In a completely new, and challenging analysis, we argue: • The Western BabyBoomers boosted chemical demand for housing, autos and electronics during their peak consumption years between 1980-2000. But this demand is unlikely to be sustained, now they are entering the 55+ age […]

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Downturn Alert shows markets still weakening

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 […]

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China’s PE market slows further

China’s polyethylene (PE) demand in Q1 was down 1.6%. Now the blog’s analysis suggests Jan-May demand was down 4% versus 2010 at 7.1MT. As the chart shows, based on data from Global Trade Information Services and ICIS: • Domestic production (blue) was up 5.6% to 4.3MT • Imports (red) were down 12% at 3MT • […]

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Wimbledon rain not a health and safety issue

The blog’s old friend, Judith Hackitt, stirred up the media this week. She attacked the Wimbledon tennis authorities for stopping Centre Court TV broadcasts when the grass is wet, on ‘health and safety’ grounds. Hackitt now runs the UK’s Health and Safety Executive. She is clearly fed up with this trivialisation of health and safety. […]

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An unmanaged Greek default gets closer

The Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair may come to be seen as a critical turning point, when the story of the Greek default is written. The then IMF head was en route to meet German Chancellor Merkel, when arrested in New York last month. He had been at the forefront of the campaign to pretend that Greece […]

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Boomers Jun11.png

55+ year olds will change chemical demand

Last week’s European New Normal seminar built on the successful Q1 launch in Singapore. Attendees came from a wide variety of businesses. This led to very lively discussion and workshops, as people debated the likely impact of the major demographic changes underway: • There was a 44% increase between 1970-2010 in the number of 25 […]

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EU automakers worry about demand

The two-tier market for autos in Europe is worrying manufacturers. As the chart shows, May’s sales (red square) were well down on the 2005-9 period, and only 7% above 2010’s very weak number. They are a continuation of recent trends, where demand continues to be sustained by a few key countries: • Germany, France and […]

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High stocks lead buyers to hold back purchases

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. […]

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