Japan may be looking at a sharp contraction in economic output in Q II

(ICIS) -- Japan may be looking at a sharp contraction in economic output in the second quarter, which will reflect the extent of the damage wrought by the 11 March disasters, analysts said on Tuesday. Its power supply problem has just been aggravated with the country's third biggest electricity operator, Chubu Electric Power, agreeing to a government request to shut its Hamaoka nuclear plant for safety reasons.

The Bank of Japan pointed to ⌠high uncertainty about the possible effects of the earthquake disaster on Japan's economy, in the minutes of early April monetary policy meeting that was released on Monday.

The Japanese economy may shrink by as much as 5% on a year-on-year basis in the June quarter as implementation of rolling blackouts in the aftermath of the 9.0-quake and tsunami in March has hit industries hard, said Gregory See, a Singapore-based economist at research firm Forecast.

The country's automotive manufacturers halted production for weeks after the disasters and are currently operating at reduced capacities. The same is true for some petrochemical facilities in the quake-hit areas.


Crude oil for June started above USD 102

(Plastemart) -- Crude oil for June delivery started the week above the hundred dollar mark at USD 102. Last week saw a 14.7% decline in oil futures, but recoiled by over five dollars at the start of the week on strong investor sentiments. The latest rally stems in part from expectations that the overall supply and demand fundamentals for oil will become less elastic by early 2012.


Global BASF team donated more than EUR 2 mln for victims of Japanese disaster

(BASF) -- Employees of BASF worldwide have donated more than EUR 780.000 to the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. BASF fully matched each donation contributed by the employees one-to-one. Including these funds and the initial contribution by BASF, donations therefore total over EUR 2 million.

The aid money from the employee donation campaign in Germany initially went to the BASF Social Foundation. This institution, in close cooperation with BASF Japan, will now identify suitable partner organizations and projects in Japan for the use of the matching funds. Employees of BASF group companies outside Germany donated to their local Red Cross and Save the Children organizations, among others.

BASF has 35 operations sites (including 27 production sites and eight R&D and technical centers) and 49 sales offices in Japan. Most BASF production sites in Japan are up and running normally now, and the Tokyo office is now operational.


NOVA Chemicals signed MoU for ethane supply

(Nova Chemicals) -- NOVA Chemicals Corporation signed a memorandum of understanding with a wholly-owned subsidiary of Range Resources Corporation for a long-term supply of ethane from the Marcellus Shale Basin.

In addition to finalizing a definitive purchase and sale agreement with Range Resources, and customary reviews and approvals, the arrangement is subject to NOVA Chemicals finalizing a pipeline transportation agreement to transport ethane from the Marcellus Shale Basin into the Sarnia, Ontario petrochemical market.

NOVA Chemicals develops and manufactures chemicals, plastic resins and end-products. NOVA Chemicals, headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, is a wholly owned subsidiary of The International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.


Lanxess will exceed EUR 1 bln EBITDA

(Lanxess) -- The specialty chemicals company Lanxess exceed the EUR 1 billion EBITDA pre exceptionals mark in 2011 after achieving its best-ever quarterly result in the first quarter. EBITDA pre exceptionals rose 38 percent year-on-year to EUR 322 million, with all segments and regions achieving double-digit growth.

Sales increased 29 percent year-on-year to EUR 2.1 billion. This was due to higher volumes and price increases that helped offset rising raw material costs, in particular for butadiene, cyclohexane and benzene. EBITDA margin pre exceptionals rose to 15.5 percent in the first quarter from 14.4 percent a year earlier and net profit increased by 60 percent year-on-year to EUR 166 million.

Net debt at the end of the first quarter 2011 only rose moderately to EUR 937 million from EUR 913 million from the end of 2010 despite increased net working capital needs in line with stronger business activity.