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Chemicals and the Economy

Rising interest rates, volatile exchange rates, high oil prices and plastic waste challenge aromatics industry

Fears are rising about the risks of recession, as I discuss in a new one-page summary of the key issues facing the aromatics industry, ‘What does the future hold for Aromatics?‘.  Please click here to download it. These issues will also be key topics at next month’s 17th World Aromatics and Derivatives Conference, jointly organised with ICIS, […]

Populism rises as global dynamics drive market shifts

We are living in a New Normal world.  Populists such as Nigel Farage, Donald Trump, Marine le Pen and Beppe Grillo are gaining support as economic growth slows and social/political unrest becomes common.  My presentation at our annual conference last week in Vienna highlighted some of the key issues, as Jessie Waldheim of ICIS news […]

Outlook for the global aromatics industry – insights from senior executives at Amsterdam Conference

Aromatics markets often lead petrochemical markets, and provide good insight into economic trends.  This has certainly been true of PTA (terephthalic acid) and benzene over the past year. PTA demand into polyester and PET is dominated by Asia: benzene’s wide variety of uses means it is a good proxy for industrial production in Europe.  Recent developments have been […]

US markets see Happy Days again

New Year optimism over the economic outlook is breaking out all over the USA.   Weak employment numbers for December were ignored, as were weak data on housing markets.  Whilst prices for benzene, the blog’s favourite sentiment indicator, not only jumped to a record high but dragged European levels to an all-time record as well. Happy Days are clearly […]

Benzene highlights rising risks in financial markets

The blog is busy preparing its presentations for its World Aromatics and Derivatives Conference later this month, co-organised as always with ICIS.  As well as looking at the impact of the transition to the New Normal, it will be investigating the current state of benzene markets.  These are always an excellent leading indicator for the global […]

Shell, Bayer, Tullow to speak at World Aromatics conference

Next month’s World Aromatics and Derivatives Conference in Brussels has a range of top-name speakers discussing key issues for the markets. Co-organised as always with ICIS, it features: Shell:  Global strategy manager Herbert Le Lorrain will present Shell’s new scenarios for the future, ‘Mountains and Oceans’ Bayer MaterialScience: New procurement head Christian Buhse will provide his first impressions […]

Prices rise whilst demand falls

The blog is extremely concerned about recent market developments. Nobody minds higher prices, if they are a response to strong demand and can be passed through to customers. But today’s high prices have nothing to do with strong demand. On the contrary, in fact. Most consumers are actually reducing output. Equally, the wider economic outlook […]

Computers push oil prices higher, again

Trading volumes in financial markets are very low these days. Many ordinary investors are on holiday, and others are focused on the Olympics. So it is easy for the high-frequency computers to create major volatility – and large profits for their owners. Thus they managed to create a 1.5% fall in the S&P 500 on […]

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