Archive | March, 2012


Financial and petchem markets differ on the outlook

“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 […]

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China’s premier warns on Cultural Revolution risk

On 29 June 1987, the blog was in S Korea on a business trip. With its ICI Korea colleagues, it arrived at the company we were due to visit, to find the gate open. The offices were also deserted. Surprised, we walked into the factory to find 500 people watching a small black and white […]

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High oil prices reduce demand, increase supply

New research by the Centre for Global Energy Studies (CGES) suggests that “The price of oil has to come down because supply prospects are so positive. The rate of demand isn’t going to grow as in the past as we use resources more efficiently.” The chart, from the latest ‘CGES Global Oil Insight: Weekly Outlook’, […]

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Cotton prices slip as India reverses export ban

Cotton prices are falling again, since Monday’s reversal by the Indian government of its proposed ban on cotton exports. India is the world’s 2nd largest cotton exporter, after the USA, with 20% of the market: • On 5 March, its Textiles Ministry banned all exports • Domestic users had applied pressure to divert supplies to […]

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China’s auto sales fall 5%

If something seems to be too good to be true, then it generally is. That appears to be the learning from China’s auto market in recent months. February sales jumped, as the Lunar New Year holiday took place in January this year. But total sales in January/February were down 5% versus 2011 at 2.37m versus […]

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Benzene, PTA warn new downturn may be close

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 […]

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Greek default just ‘end of the beginning’ in debt crisis

Yesterday saw the world’s largest ever sovereign debt default, when Greece finally carried through a €206bn ($272bn) restructuring. Yet only the eurozone leaders believe this will solve Greece’s problems and those of the other PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain). Greece is still left with a debt too large to be repaid. Its economy is […]

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Nissan goes back to the future with Datsun revival

Nissan, Japan’s No2 auto maker, provides further evidence for our argument in Boom, Gloom and the New Normal that affordability is becoming the key driver for sales and profits. It is now considering reviving the low-cost Datsun brand as it seeks to grow its sales in countries such as India, Indonesia and Russia. The Wall […]

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Time to stop making single-use plastic bags?

The past few years have seen an increasing number of countries and major companies moving to ban or reduce the use of plastic bags. Now Austin, state capital of Texas, and the 14th largest US city has voted to introduce criminal penalties for any retailer breaking its new law. ICIS’ Joe Kamalick notes that “the […]

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China’s growth surge has ended

Last May, the blog raised major questions about the sustainability of China’s petchem demand growth surge in 2009-10. It suggested in an ICB article that “China’s 53% rise in PE demand is a warning sign in itself that its economy may be over-heating. Inflation is also rising – far too high for comfort“. Now new […]

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