Cefic Reports Trends in European Chemical Industry
Prices for chemicals in the European Union in August climbed on a year-on-year basis, up 1.0 per cent during the month against the comparable period in 2011. The price increase was led yet again by the overall price hike in basic inorganics. Overall prices for chemicals rose by 2.7 per cent during the first eight months of 2012 against the comparable period in 2011.
Latest trade data show the EU chemicals net trade surplus increased further through the first seven months of 2012 by €6.6 billion compared with the same period of last year, reaching €29.1 billion. Overall chemicals sector confidence decreased by 2.4 points, the decline being mostly due to more negative assessment of the current level of overall order books. This is in line with the downward trend of EU confidence of the overall manufacturing sector, analysis of the most recent EU Commission data indicates.
Output of Speciality and Consumer Chemicals Down
The 2.2 per cent year-on-year output decline in August was led by two chemicals subsectors – specialty chemicals and consumer chemicals – which fell by 4.6 per cent and 3.6 per cent respectively. Polymers fell by 2.8 per cent in August on a year-on-year basis while petrochemicals experienced a 2.3 per cent drop. Basic inorganics production registered a small decline of 0.2 per cent in August 2012.
Based on Eurostat data, the production index of the EU manufacturing sector as a whole went down by 1.6 per cent per cent in the first eight months of 2012 compared with the same period in 2011. Monthly data for August 2012 showed a 1.7 per cent drop compared with August of 2011. Sectoral analysis shows that construction and basic metals categories – key chemicals industry customers – each fell by 4.7 per cent. The machinery and equipment subsector is likely to resist, however, the generally stormy economic and business environment in Europe. Output in the food and beverage sector, as well as the auto sector, was anaemic during the January to August 2012 timeframe.
EU Trade Surplus and Higher Prices
Trade data through July 2012 show a €29.1 billion overall year-to-date EU chemicals net trade surplus with other markets, up €6.6 billion on the same seven-month period the year prior. The EU net trade surplus with the NAFTA region contributed significantly to the bump in the January-July overall surplus, reaching €7 billion, up €2.2 billion compared with the same period in 2011. The EU net trade surplus with the Rest of Europe, which includes Russia and Turkey, reached €8.9 billion through July, up €1.5 billion compared with the same seven-month period the previous year. A €3.1 billion surplus occurred with Asia, excluding Japan and China, during the first seven months of the year, down €0.1 billion from the comparable period in 2011.
Year-on-year EU chemicals prices rose in August by 1.0 per cent, driven by the price for basic inorganics, which increased by 2.1 per cent during the month. Prices for consumer chemicals rose by 0.8 per cent, while petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals prices edged down by 2.9 per cent and 1.8 per cent respectively in August as compared with the year prior. January-to-July EU sales up 4.9 per cent from 2008 pre-crisis period Compared to full-year sales levels in 2008, the pre-crisis peak, the total value of EU chemicals sales through the first seven months of 2012 was
4.9 per cent higher. July sales were 4.4 per cent lower compared with the same month the year prior. Sales for the first seven months of 2012 were 1.6 per cent below the comparable
period in 2011.
EU chemicals confidence indicator (CCI) decreased
Based on data from the EU Commission business and consumer survey report published on October 30, 2012, the EU chemical industry confidence indicator, or CCI, decreased by 2.4 points in October 2012 compared to September of the same year. Managers‘ assessment of the current level of overall order books decreased by 7.2 points, and their production expectations for the sector decreased by 4.0 points. The EU Commission report also showed a similar downward trend in confidence in the overall EU manufacturing sector.[AS]