IHS Chemical Week


Chemical industry weekly news roundup, 1 March

11:35 AM MST | March 1, 2013 | By LINDSAY FROST

This week in CW:

More earnings were reported this week as the season comes to an end. In Europe, top German players BASF and Bayer both reported higher sales and earnings. Bayer's fourth-quarter group Ebit before special items rose 37%, to €1.16 billion, on sales 5.5% higher, at €9.86 billion, and BASF’s fourth-quarter Ebit before special items of €1.8 billion ($2.4 billion) was 18% above the year-earlier quarter, and sales were 9% higher, at €19.6 billion. In the United States, Chemtura’s earnings were up 13% as strength in consumer products and agricultural chemicals offset weak conditions in the company’s industrial segments. Ecolab’s earnings increased almost 2-fold, to $231.4 million, with growth in all reported segments.

South Louisiana Methanol (SLM), a partnership of Zero Emission Energy Plants (ZEEP; Austin, TX) and Todd Corp. (Wellington, New Zealand) plans to construct a $1.3-billion methanol production facility at St. James Parish, LA. Construction will begin the fourth quarter 2013, with start-up expected in mid-2016.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) says it has ruled that two tax-shelter transactions entered into by Dow Chemical, and designed by Goldman Sachs and law firm King & Spalding, amounted to $1 billion in phony tax deductions. Chief Judge Brian Jackson rejected the tax benefits from the shelter transactions and imposed penalties, according to the DOJ.

Chemicals production in the European Union contracted by 1.5% in 2012 compared with 2011, according to Cefic. Full-year performance is slightly better than Cefic’s previous projection of a 2% decline, reflecting above-0 output growth in the fourth quarter.

Around the Web:

The Washington Post says that the US economy grew slightly in the fourth quarter, according to data released by the US government on Thursday. An estimate of the nation’s GDP shows it expanded at an annual rate of 0.1% during the quarter—barely above stall speed. The Post says that though tepid growth is better than none, the report still shows a fragile recovery that has been too weak to make a significant dent in the country’s unemployment rate.

According to Nature, a process for extracting hydrogen from a liquid fuel could remove one of the biggest hurdles to a “hydrogen economy,” the discoverers say. Researchers have developed a catalyst that harvests the gas from the liquid fuel methanol.

Reuters says a gauge of planned US business spending recorded its largest increase in over a year in January, suggesting growing confidence in the durability of the economic recovery. Nondefense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, jumped 6.3%, the biggest gain since December 2011.

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