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Chemicals business lacking growth

The chemicals business cycle free-wheeled last year as capacity grew by more than demand

The worldwide chemicals business failed to grow as much as hoped for last year, owing to weak economies. First-quarter results point to improving prospects this year, but there is no prospect of a dramatic swing in the chemicals cycle.Petroleum Economist’s latest annual analysis of the chemicals business, based on the results of the large chemicals companies and the oil companies’ chemicals subsidiaries, shows that average profitability declined marginally last year. The sector achieved an average return on assets of 9.6% in 2014, against 10.0% in 2013 (see Table 1). Last year’s result confirms the trend of recent years of relatively minor movements in the chemicals cycle, in contrast to t

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