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Uneven progress for world chemicals business

The worldwide chemicals business is strengthening but Europe is lagging

For chemicals operators in the US, these are encouraging times: demand in consumer industries is buoyant while feedstock prices are competitive. Asian operators are seeing growth in demand, although they face feedstock headwinds. The main problem is Europe – home of much of the world’s chemicals capacity – where demand has been flat and feedstock costs are high. Overall, the worldwide chemicals business had a better year in 2013 than in 2012, and the signs are that progress is continuing this year. But many operators say business is a struggle, with gains in volume sales being offset by cuts in prices. Manufacturing capacity for high-volume base and intermediate chemicals has increased sign

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