Business Trends

Archive for June, 2009|Monthly archive page

Jobless Americans Turning to Career Resource Sites

In Uncategorized on June 30, 2009 at 9:46 pm

comScore, Inc. released a June 2009 overview of the career services & development category, which revealed that more than 65 million Americans visited the particular category in June, representing a 10-percent increase versus year ago, ranking it as one of the top-growing site categories. Seven of the top ten sites in the category achieved double-digit gains during that period.

CareerBuilder LLC led the category with 21.7 million unique visitors, followed by Yahoo! HotJobs with 17.9 million visitors (up 23 percent vs. year ago) and Monster.com with 14.5 million visitors (up 6 percent). The next three sites in the ranking have each achieved substantial growth in the past year, with Indeed growing 59 percent to 8 million visitors, Job.com Sites up 46 percent to 7.4 million visitors, and SnagAJob up 48 percent to 4.7 million visitors.

Top Career Resource Sites
June 2009 vs. June 2008
Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations
Source: comScore Media Metrix
  Total Unique Visitors (000)
Jun-2008 Jun-2009 % Change
Total Internet : Total Audience 189,873 193,896 2
Career Services and Development 59,031 65,221 10
CareerBuilder LLC 22,033 21,704 -1
Yahoo! HotJobs 14,535 17,861 23
Monster 13,605 14,472 6
Indeed 5,046 8,046 59
Job.com Sites 5,049 7,378 46
SnagAJob 3,160 4,662 48
Simply Hired, Inc. 2,882 3,876 35
JOBSONLINE.NET 2,294 2,996 31
OPM 973 2,765 184
BRASSRING.COM 2,249 2,005 -11

 

Top 10 Occupations Searched* on Career Service & Development Sites
June 2009
Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations
Source: comScore Marketer
Occupation / Search Term Searchers
Customer Service 273,310
Warehouse 257,484
Sales 216,784
Receptionist 178,787
Medical Assistant 161,232
Clerical 149,728
Construction 144,554
Driver 132,947
Retail 127,751
Security 107,219

 

WorkTree.com, the nation’s largest paid-membership job search portal, recently announced their top job search trends for the month of May, compiling data on many trends such as typical careers searched, desired salaries, and level of education.

The results show that the top careers being searched are in the fields of:

   Information Technology
   Human Resources
   Accounting/Finance
   Engineering
   Manufacturing/Operations

Sales dropped out of the top five most searched list from the previous month. These five fields represent 43% of all career fields searched during the month of May.

WorkTree.com also notes a drop in the salary level sought by its members. More than half of members searched for jobs in the $40,000 to $80,000 range, as compared with the previous month, where 21% of all searches were in the $90,000 to $120,000 range. In May, that salary range represented only 10% of searches. Typical education levels also dropped slightly. Nearly 71% of all searchers hold bachelor’s or master’s degrees as compared with 76% the previous month.

“We continue to see large numbers of highly qualified individuals actively seeking employment,” Board of Managers Chairman Allan Martin said. “One particularly interesting statistic – the willingness of people to relocate for work – is on the rise. It is the first time in many months we have seen that the number of new members willing to relocate is actually greater than the number of people unwilling to relocate for a job.”

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Euro Retail Sales Also Taking a Hit

In Consumer Trends, economy, Uncategorized on June 29, 2009 at 5:12 pm

According to the Bloomberg Euro-Zone Retail Purchasing Managers’ Index,  retail business conditions in Europe continued to deteriorate in June, with sales, employment, purchasing of stock and margins all falling compared with May.
When compared to May, retail sales fell in all of the three largest euro countries:

 –Germany experienced the steepest drop in monthly sales of the three, and was also the only country to record a sharper rate of decline. The index fell for a second successive month from 46.3 to 46.0, signaling the largest monthly drop in sales since March and the thirteenth successive decline. The average decline for Q2 as a whole was the smallest since the second quarter of last year.
Sales fell in France for the fifth successive month. The rate of deterioration slowed to near-stagnation to register the smallest monthly decline over this period and the best performance of the three countries. The index rose from 48.3 to 49.4. For Q2 as a whole, the decline was the weakest recorded over the past three quarters.
Italy saw sales drop for the twenty-eighth consecutive month. The index rose from 46.5 to 47.0, registering the smallest monthly decline since October 2007. The rate of contraction has moderated since the record pace seen last November, meaning the average monthly drop in sales during Q2 was the smallest since Q2 2007.

Euro area retail sales were down from June 2008. The year-on-year sales index rose from 38.7 in May to 42.7. This upward movement pointed to an easing in the rate of decline from the severe pace seen one month earlier. Sales fell from a year ago in all three countries, led by Italy, which was also the only country to see an acceleration in the rate of decline. Germany reported the weakest overall year-on-year drop.

Survey: Americans Underestimate Role of Crucial Economic Resources

In Uncategorized on June 29, 2009 at 4:35 pm

oilA new survey conducted by the American Petroleum Institute finds that while Americans now recognize the United States will need more energy in the coming years, they continue to underestimate the amount of oil and natural gas that government experts predict will be needed to meet that demand. Conversely, respondents overestimate the role that renewable energy sources will play in meeting future demand, the amount of oil the U.S. imports from the Middle East, and oil and natural gas industry earnings.

According to market research firm IBISWorld, the US leads the world in petroleum refining output, with an emphasis on the processing of light, low sulfur crude oil. It has about 20% of the world’s crude oil distillation capacity and about 30% of the more complex cracking and reforming capacity.

The new administration and Congress are currently underway in pursuing energy and climate policies that will determine America’s economic competitiveness for years to come.

“Americans understand fundamentally that we need more energy to grow our economy but they continue to undervalue oil and natural gas in meeting expected demand,” said Jack Gerard, API’s president and CEO. “We stand ready to work with the White House and Congress on policies that encourage the development of America’s vast resources, which would strengthen our nation’s energy security, create new jobs and increase government revenues by trillions of dollars.”

“The American public wants to believe there is a silver bullet answer to our energy challenges despite what government experts predict,” said Jim Hoskins, senior vice president for Harris Interactive. “Americans have become more aware of how current policies limit increased domestic production but they also continue to subscribe to common, yet critical, misperceptions regarding how the industry operates and the energy we’ll need to meet growing demand.”

Comparing the results to last year’s survey, respondents showed a continued misunderstanding on key issues such as the significance of North American oil and natural gas resources, the number of people employed by the oil and natural gas industry in the U.S., and the amount of taxes the industry pays every year.

API commissioned the online research by Harris Interactive of 1,298 U.S. adults between April 30 and May 8, 2009. Results were compared to the previous two years’ responses. Among the survey’s key findings:

More Americans understand that U.S. energy demand will increase during the next 20 years, but they underestimate the vital role that fossil fuels will play in meeting demand.

While the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that U.S. energy demand will increase 9 percent during the next 20 years, only 5 percent of respondents chose the correct answer. The majority overestimated this number, believing that U.S. demand would increase 16 to 21 percent.

When asked what percent of global energy demand will be met by fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal, according to government projections, only 10 percent of respondents answered correctly that fossil fuels will meet 85 percent of energy demand. This is the second consecutive year this number has dropped even though the EIA figure for future U.S. reliance on fossil fuels has risen by five percent since 2008.

Similarly, while the EIA projects that more than 55 percent of U.S. energy demand in 2030 will be met by oil and natural gas, only 16 percent of respondents chose this answer.

Those surveyed overestimate the amount of oil and natural gas supplied to the U.S. by the Persian Gulf countries and underestimate the amount that is supplied from North America.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), 12 percent of the oil consumed last year in the U.S. came from the Persian Gulf countries. Only 7 percent of respondents chose correctly, while more than 40 percent of respondents believed that over 30 percent of our oil supply came from the Persian Gulf.

Fifty-three percent of respondents believed that Saudi Arabia was the largest U.S. supplier of imported crude oil. In fact, according to the DOE, Canada is the largest supplier of imported crude oil.

Only 5 percent of respondents knew that more than 73 percent of oil and natural gas consumed in the U.S. was produced in North America. This is down 3 percent from last year’s survey. A surprising 42 percent were under the misconception that the answer was less than 35 percent.

Americans Still Not Spending

In economy, Uncategorized on June 25, 2009 at 4:58 pm

spendingAccording to Mintz.com, Americans are continuing to tighten their belts through Q1 of this year. 2008 data shows users of the online personal finance service cutting spending by an average of 4% each quarter, and by another 4% in Q1 2009. Overall Q1 2009 spending was down 17% versus Q1 2008 across eight key categories. This indicates that, at a national level, the leading money management and budgeting service’s users remain concerned about the length and depth of the U.S. recession and its potential impact on family job loss and economic security.

This continuing trend of regular expense reductions tells me that consumer confidence is not yet on the rise,” said Aaron Patzer, CEO and founder of Mint.com. “Our users are looking for more concrete evidence that the U.S. economy is truly bottoming out before they’ll be returning to prior spending levels … if in fact they do. While it’s tough to know that 17% of last year’s spend has fallen out of the American economy, it’s satisfying to know that our financial management and budgeting software appears to be helping our growing user base weather one of the longest downturns in our nation’s history.”

The most dramatic decrease is in Shopping, where user spending has dropped by more than 40%, which is significant savings in aggregate, but was accomplished by a steady, gradual 3-5% cut each month in a discretionary category where that type of control is possible

Users have also cut spending quarter over quarter in Entertainment (by 24%) and Bills & Utilities (by 16%)

Other categories have fluctuated quarter over quarter based on seasonal shifts, but still show a net decline:

Spending on Gifts and Donations was down 1%, in spite of a 25% spike in Q3 and Q4 with election donations and the holiday season
Automotive spending has seen the broadest swing in spending, with the extreme variance in gas prices in the same time period, but still nets at a 24% decline over the examined quarters.

The only category that has completely recovered is Food & Dining, where spending in Q109 was actually higher than it was a year prior – but just by 2%.

“This data suggests that Mint’s current tools and guidance are working well for our users today,” said Patzer, “But there’s much more opportunity to make budgeting and planning easier and more effective for more Americans. We’ll be introducing new and improved product features and educational content in Q3 and Q4 designed to do just that.”

Economic Recovery Anytime Soon?

As unemployment continues to rise and disposable income drops, no one is anticipating a fast recovery. Consumers have become increasingly concerned for their jobs and are saving rather than spending.

According to market research firm IBISWorld and their latest report on the economic crisis, we can expect the economy to contract overall by 3% in 2009 – the worst decline in more than 50 years. The lowest point may have been reached in the first quarter, and it will not be until 2011 that overall economic activity will surpass 2008 levels.

Only 1% Of Stimulus Money Helping 95% Of American Firms

In economy, Uncategorized on June 25, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Quick fact: the U.S. Census Bureau states that 98% of all U.S. firms have less than 100 employees, and approximately 25 million firms fall into that category. These firms employ over 55% of the private sector workforce and are responsible for over 95% of all new jobs created in America.

The American Small Business League (ASBL) has found of the $2.7 trillion that has been allocated so far to stimulate the national economy, only $21 billion, or less than 1% of the funds have directly gone to small businesses.

The remainder of the funds that were allocated to businesses wound up in the hands of the top 1% of U.S. firms. President Obama has promised to create up to 4.1 million jobs. Census data indicates the top 1% of U.S. firms have not created one net new job since 1977.

That aside, Los Angeles based industry research firm IBISWorld found that commercial bankruptcies nearly doubled in March of this year since last year’s figures.

“We can expect the current upward trend in business bankruptcy filings over the first half of the year to continue this year,” said George Van Horn, senior analyst at IBISWorld.

There is evidence to suggest the economic stimulus plan is actually harming small businesses. The Wall Street bailout bills were touted as being essential to increasing access to capital for small businesses. Some of the firms that received billions in federal tax dollars are actually cutting access to capital for small businesses. A story in BusinessWeek reported that JPMorgan Chase, one of the largest recipients of the bailout funds, reduced the flow of credit lines for small businesses.

Section 107 of the original Wall Street bailout bill gave the Treasury Secretary the power to waive any provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) he chooses. Paragraph 9 (b) of the bill specifically mentions the waiver of “any provision of the Federal Acquisition Regulations pertaining to minority contracting” and the waiver of provisions pertaining to “woman-owned businesses.”

The Obama Administration is supporting a new bill in Congress that could dismantle existing federal economic stimulus programs for small businesses by changing the federal definition of a small business. The new definition will allow many of the nations wealthiest venture capitalists to take billions of dollars in federal contracts previously earmarked for small businesses.

In February of 2008 President Obama stated, “It is time to end the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants.” To date, the President has refused to adopt any policy to honor that campaign promise. A series of federal investigations discovered that billions of dollars in federal small business contracts are being diverted to Fortune 1000 firms.

Fortune 100 CEOs are Social Media Slackers

In Uncategorized on June 24, 2009 at 4:20 pm

According to research conducted by UberCEO.com, CEOs from the top 100 US public companies appear to be mostly absent from the social media community.

The study looked at Fortune’s 2009 list of the top 100 CEOs to determine how many were using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, or had a blog. The results showed a dismal level of engagement:

 -Only two CEOs have Twitter accounts.
-13 CEOs have LinkedIn profiles, and of those only three have more than 10 connections.
-81% of CEOs don’t have a personal Facebook page.
-Three quarters of the CEOs have some kind of Wikipedia entry, but nearly a third of those have limited or outdated information.
-Not one Fortune 100 CEO has a blog.

Twitter was the least used service by Fortune 100 CEOs, despite being one of the fastest growing social media networks. Wikipedia had the highest level of engagement among the Fortune 100 CEOs, yet 28% of those entries had incorrect titles, missing information or lacked sources.
LinkedIn, a site mainly used for professional networking, only attracted 13 Fortune 100 CEOs, five of which had just one connection. Three CEOs stood out from the pack on LinkedIn, each having more than 80 connections. However, they are all from technology companies – Michael Dell (Dell), Gregory Spierkel (Ingram Micro) and John Chambers (Cisco).

While there were slightly more Fortune 100 CEO users on Facebook than on LinkedIn, most of them had limited information on their page and few friends. More surprising is that no Fortune 100 CEO has a public blog that could be easily found.
“It’s shocking that the top CEOs can appear to be so disconnected from the way their own customers are communicating. They’re giving the impression that they’re disconnected, disengaged and disinterested,” said Sharon Barclay, editor at UberCEO.com.

“No doubt regulations such as Sarbanes Oxley and Reg-FD make CEOs cautious about communicating freely, but they’re missing a fabulous opportunity to connect with their target audience and raise their company’s visibility,” said Barclay.

IBISWorld Announces High-Growth Sectors For Entrepreneurs & Investors

In business opportunity, Consumer Trends, economy, Uncategorized on June 22, 2009 at 11:52 pm

There is still money to be made despite the economic climate according to industry research firm IBISWorld. The company identified the leading start-up opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors to potentially make a profit in 2009 and beyond. The high-growth sectors are identified below:

 

 

1. Landscaping Services

Revenue forecast
2011 onwards.
Average annual growth of 4.5 percent from
Start-up costs $1k – $100k+ start up costs, with the upper end
relating to the purchase of equipment.

 

The aging population is driving demand in the landscaping sector, which is also benefiting from businesses, government and time-poor households outsourcing landscaping services.

Landscaping is an attractive start-up proposition because of low barriers to entry, as well as low initial capital requirements. “Many people can commence operations with equipment they already own, and there is no need for a formal office or additional staff,” noted Toon van Beeck, senior analyst with IBISWorld.

However competition is heating up for newer players to stand out, as established enterprises firmly plant their feet in the industry. All in all, strong growth will return around 2011, when income levels are expected to recover and job insecurity subsides. In order to stay competitive, investments—such as in earth-moving equipment-will likely be required, invariably driving up the cost to enter the industry.

 

2. Tutoring, Test Preparation, Driving Schools & Other Education

Revenue forecast
2011 onwards.
Average growth of 2.1 percent per year from
Start-up costs $4K – $75K start up costs, with the upper end
relating to purchasing an existing tutoring
business/operation from an established location

 

The popularity of online tutoring services is on the rise as families increasingly value low-cost, convenient applications they can use from home. Technology continues to evolve its way into the mainstream, and students are quickly adopting this integration into such online services. Growing consumer acceptance of tutoring and exam-preparation services is also moving this area forward. Online tutorial services were once relatively uncommon, however now they are an accepted – even sought-after – part of the education sector.

“In the current market we may also see people looking to expand their product offering to include relatively simple, short courses such as in first-aid and self-defence,” van Beeck predicts.

The initial cost of establishing a business in this industry is low, with most operators being able to rent premises on an “as-required” basis. There is also minimal need for capital expenditure on specialized equipment for tutoring and exam-preparation providers, apart from computers or other technological training resources. Competition in this evolving industry is currently moderate.

 

3. Fashion Design Services

Revenue forecast
2013 onwards.
Annualized industry growth of 6.3 percent to
Start-up costs $5k – $30k

 

While entrants require innovative design and creativity, demand for industry services from growing international markets, like China, will support this area in the long-run despite the current economic situation of 2009.

The beginning stages of any new fashion business will be challenging, but for the short-run IBISWorld expects a shift in designer focus towards producing fashionable yet affordable clothing, as budget-conscious consumers drive overall prices down.

IBISWorld anticipates an industry-wide recovery in the second half of 2010, with growth to ensue as consumer confidence is restored and fashionable clothing becomes more affordable. And while the sector has low-levels of concentration, competition is high and is increasing.

van Beeck advises new entrants to differentiate their services based on creative skills, quality, and witty self-marketing rather than through advertisement.

“In recent years, smaller, independent designers have been sprouting like never before and this has given the industry the ability to move forward despite the retail sector taking a big hit. This year won’t be easy, but we anticipate strong growth will return to the market and since entry barriers and start-up costs are relatively low – along with the growing popularity of online retail – we believe this industry warrants inclusion in the list,” said van Beeck.

 

4. Community Food Services

Revenue forecast
2011 onwards.
Annualized industry growth of 6.9 percent until
Start-up costs $500- $1,000 initial capital outlay, including gas and food supply

 

Historically high un-employment rates, combined with mass displacement and foreclosures, have seen a rapid rise in the need for emergency food supplies and community based food services. For new entrants, this $5.3 billion industry provides some profitable opportunities. Characterized by low barriers to entry, minimal capital requirements, and excellent growth prospects until 2011, community food services are both a noble and lucrative industry to enter amidst the gloom.

 

5. Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Revenue forecast
2013 onwards.
Annualized industry growth of 6.2 percent to
Start-up costs $500- $1,000 initial capital outlay, including gas
and food supply

 

Rising unemployment and displaced professionals will spur demand for vocational rehabilitation services this year, as the workforce becomes starkly competitive with the increasing amount of Americans vying for work.

“Getting people back to work will be a key priority for the government, so this industry will enjoy strong federal support for at least another year or so. Demand for industry services will be strongest in the regions most affected by the subprime crisis, particularly Calif. and Fla.,” advised van Beeck.

The recession will drive demand for training and return-to-work programs, and although the level of capital intensity is relatively low and industry assistance is high, it is a tougher field to penetrate than some of the other start-up options on this list. Industry contacts and counselling skills are particularly important.

 

6. eCommerce & Online Auctions

Revenue forecast
2013 onwards.
Annualized industry growth of 12.1 percent per
Start-up costs Online retailing start up costs at $12k to $260k

 

Americans are becoming thrifty with their wallets, and with the Internet offering an array of providers for every conceivable need, consumers are better able to research and compare more inexpensive options offering the greatest value.

This industry’s phenomenal growth is expected to continue for the next few years, facilitated by relatively low operating costs that lead to higher profit margins for operators.

Technologically, the industry continues to evolve and improve. Secure payment systems such as PayPal and effective web-based self-service solutions are improving business-to-consumer relations while boosting confidence and convenience regarding online shopping.

“This industry has low entry barriers and the cost of purchasing, establishing, and maintaining a website is very low, making it an encouraging prospect for new entrants. However, people considering setting up shop in this field are advised to consider that the costs of establishing, and maintaining a more advanced e-commerce site – with enhanced functionality and features – is much more significant. Setting up and maintaining databases can require hefty initial capital investment, and maintenance costs are of course ongoing,” van Beeck added.

 

7. Automobile Towing

Revenue forecast
2014 onwards.
Annualized industry growth of 2.7 percent to
Start-up costs $20,000 – $75,000 initial capital outlay

 

As consumers are cutting back on expenditures with their vehicles and putting off repairs, the number of breakdowns and volume of motorists needing emergency roadside assistance will increase, spurring demand for maintenance and servicing. Over the long-run, ageing fleets and high traffic volumes will invariably support the need for towing services, as commuters who opted to use public transport during tough economic times move back behind the wheel once the economic climate improves.

Further more, independent contractors are often able to provide better response times if they maintain a larger fleet of tow vehicles that can service a wider area. Public and private entities often find it more cost-effective to contract for services on a per-tow or per-repair basis, rather than maintaining a fleet of vehicles with the staff to operate them. This is becoming an even more attractive alternative, as the public and private sector attempt to reduce secondary labor costs – such as health insurance and pensions.

New entrants to the industry must become accredited by the state roads or transport authority, and pay regular license fees (combined cost of around $3000), as well as complying with regulations including driver log books and environmental stipulations. The cost of a tow truck ranges from as low as $20,000 for a used vehicle, to around $60,000, and operators also need to invest in tracking and communications.

 

8. Video Game Retail

Revenue forecast
2014 onwards.
Annualized industry growth of 11.4 percent to
Start-up costs $200,000+ initial capital outlay, primarily including
the cost of a shop front, stock and supplies

 

As a growth industry, video game retailing is a viable and lucrative business option in the current climate, as video games console a growing number of consumers spending more time at home. With low barriers to entry and modest initial capital requirements, this industry is well suited for potential entrants. Further, the ability to secure contracts from game wholesalers is relatively easy to facilitate, and the only barrier for new entrants is the cost of securing stock for initial sale.

 

9. Elderly & Disabled Services

Revenue forecast
2013 onwards.
Annualized industry growth of 7.1 percent to
Start-up costs $200k – $1 million+
$200k would be the absolute lowest – new entrants need to be willing to invest in nursing
staff (who will need to work 24 hours), as well as considerable amounts of medical
equipment and mobility-assistance machines, among other expenses, driving up costs.
This can be recouped fairly swift as long as occupancy is high enough, but any entrant
would need to be cashed-up or willing to borrow heavily in a tight credit market.

 

Growth and demand is steadily rising in this field, and it is a trend IBISWorld expects to continue for the foreseeable future, as the baby boomer generation approaches retirement age – spurring renewed demand like never before for age-specific services.

“This is supported by the fact that establishment growth is considerably stronger among non-employers, with annualized growth of 8.3 percent over the current period, as opposed to 3.3 percent among employers,” explained van Beeck. Government grants could be drawn upon to establish new industry entities – bringing down start-up costs – which are still significant since operators need to invest in and often modify premises, hire qualified nursing and auxiliary staff, and seek specialized medical equipment.

“Rising federal government funding, the rise of age-related issues, and an emphasis on caring for people with disabilities (such as the New Freedom Initiative), make this industry highly prospective. Entry barriers are low, and tax concessions and rebates are available for non-profit organizations. Currently, 86 percent of industry players operate without having to pay taxes – a significant incentive.

Rising Energy Demands Necessitate Capacity Additions in Oil and Gas Refineries

In Uncategorized on June 22, 2009 at 5:00 pm

Oil and gas account for 41 percent of India’s energy consumption and there is unlikely to be any significant scaling down of dependence on these fuels in the next five to ten years.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Strategic Analysis of Oil and Gas Sector in India, finds that the output of the Indian oil and gas sector was 184.3 million tonnes oil equivalent in 2008 and expects this to reach 339.6 million tonnes oil equivalent in 2015.

“To meet this considerable demand, the oil and gas sector is expanding its refining capacity to drive output and export of petroleum products,” says Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Siddhartha Saha. “However, this is likely to widen the gap between domestic demand and supply of crude oil.”

A substantial increase in the domestic supply of natural gas and reduced prices of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are likely to encourage gas consumption in power, fertilizer, city gas distribution, and other industrial segments. Owing to the rising consumption of oil and gas, the Government has framed favorable policies to promote exploration and production. This move has caused a quantum leap in domestic natural gas supply. Government policies have also supported the growth of export-oriented refining capacity in the country.

Natural and technological limitations in enhancing global oil production are likely to restrain supply from keeping pace with the demand. This, in turn, could lead to a continued increase in the base-level prices of crude oil.

“In India, the pricing of petroleum products and natural gas continues to be regulated by the government,” observes Saha. “Though international crude oil prices have come down in the short term, they are expected to rebound and rise in a sustained fashion in the long term.”

The oil and gas sector will have to strategize to deal with volatile prices on the supply side and government-regulated product prices in the coming years.

With margins under pressure, Indian refiners have begun to integrate with value-added products such as petrochemicals and invest in methods to improve distillate yields. Moreover, in response to the regulated product prices in the domestic market, the private sector refiners have moved to sell major shares of their products in the export market.

“As crude prices have increased, the spotlight is on widening the gross refining margins by up-grading heavy gas oils and vacuum residue to fuel products,” notes Saha. “To gain additional revenue, Indian refineries are also integrating horizontally to venture into the production of more value-added products.”

Strategic Analysis of Oil and Gas Sector in India is part of the Energy & Power Growth Partnership Services program, which also includes research in the following markets: APAC generator sets market, Chinese power plant market, European nuclear power sector, world alkaline battery market. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.

According to Platts, a leading global provider of energy and commodities information, China consumed 33.23 million metric tons of oil in May, up a strong 6% from the same month in 2008. The data means Chinese demand has shown a year-on-year increase for a second consecutive month, evidence that demand for fuel in the world’s second largest oil-consuming nation is in recovery. In April, Chinese oil demand rose for the first time in six months. However China’s own crude oil production slipped by more than 1% in May.

“Falling crude oil production in China means its rebounding demand is having a disproportionally large affect on international oil trading. China imported 17.09 million metric tons – about 4 million barrels a day of crude oil last month. That was the second highest month of crude oil imports into China, ever,” said Dave Ernsberger, senior editorial director for Asia at Platts.

According to industry market research firm IBISWorld, US crude oil production meets only about one-third of its oil requirements; the rest is imported. Despite overall growth, industry revenue is expected to slump by about 41% in 2009 –in response to much lower crude oil and natural gas prices. However industry performance is expected to gain ground during the outlook period in response to rising oil and gas prices and higher levels of output.

Marriott Ranked Top Place To Work For IT Professionals

In Uncategorized on June 16, 2009 at 8:04 pm

According to Computerworld, Marriott International Inc., is ranked as one of “The Best Places to Work in Information Technology”, for the seventh year in a row. The hotel-chain ranked 12th overall, and is the leader in the lodging industry.

According to Los Angeles based IBISWorld, a provider of comprehensive industry reports, at the end of 2007, Marriott Inc. had over 3,000 properties globally, across 68 countries and territories, with revenue of over $13,000 million. The chain is known  to operate and franchise its hotels under the brands: Marriott, Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, Residence Inn, Courtyard, TownePlace Suites, Fairfield Inn, SpringHill Suites and Bulgari.

Computerworld highlighted Marriott’s long tenure and the peer-to-peer Values In Practice (VIP) Award program. Each month, a few outstanding IT workers are honored for exhibiting one of the company’s core operating values and are recognized with a congratulatory letter from the CIO and a crystal plaque.
The Best Places to Work in Information Technology (IT) list is an annual ranking of the top 100 work environments for technology professionals compiled by Computerworld, the “Voice of IT Management.” The lists are compiled based on a comprehensive questionnaire regarding company offerings in categories such as benefits, diversity, career development, training and retention. In addition, Computerworld conducts extensive surveys of IT workers, and their responses factor heavily in determining the rankings.
“Marriott’s success depends upon the extent to which our associates have the capacity, motivation, tools and information to achieve both personal and professional growth,” says Carl Wilson, executive vice president and chief information officer. “We are honored that Computerworld has recognized our efforts to provide Marriott associates with the opportunities they need to be successful.”
“To be among the Best Places to Work in IT, it’s not enough just to seek out and hire the most talented IT people, offer them competitive pay and provide great benefits,” said Scot Finnie, editor in chief of Computerworld. “The organizations that made this year’s Best Places to Work list sustain a dynamic work environment in which IT professionals keep their hands on the latest technologies and work on projects that are business critical. In the months and years ahead, IT is going to become a key accelerator of business growth.”

Recession-Weary Americans Spending Less On Healthier Foods

In Consumer Trends, economy, Uncategorized on June 16, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Almost half (46 percent) of Americans are reluctant to spend more on healthier versions of food, the United Soybean Board’s (USB) 2009 Consumer Attitudes about Nutrition survey reveals. This is not for lack of interest: Of those not willing to spend more, 52 percent confirm the reason is financial. However, nutritious foods don’t always come with a hefty price tag.

According to the sixteenth annual research study, 87 percent of Americans express concern about the nutritional content of the food they eat, a number that reflects Americans’ interest in healthier foods. While consumers juggle nutrition and economic value, 88 percent still consider nutrition important when purchasing foods at the grocery store.
Within price constraints, Americans are taking greater control of their health by choosing functional foods that provide specific health benefits. According to Packaged Facts’ Functional Foods and Beverages study, U.S. retail sales for functional foods totaled $31 billion in 2008, an increase from $26.9 billion in 2006. Soymilk faired especially well in sales, although controversy surrounding soy and estrogen may start to cause a decline in demand for soy-related products. Still, 84 percent of Americans rate soy as healthy, up 25 percentage points over the last 12 years. In fact, one-third of Americans purchase foods specifically because they contain soy.