EU country production data for the first three quarters of 2010 show Germany leading Europe, with production up by nearly 20 per cent compared to the first three quarters of 2009. The extra-EU trade surplus rose in the first eight months of the year as compared with the comparable period in 2009. Cefic Chief Economist Moncef Hadhri commented: „The September data confirm that the overall situation in the EU chemicals sector continued to improve. The data also suggest that the recovery of the EU chemicals sector will continue in the coming months at a slower pace, with differences in EU countries and chemicals sub-sectors. The forecast remains mostly the same, as overall activity will moderate through the end of the year.“

Production in the first three quarters of 2010 grew by 12.2 per cent as compared with the same period last year. Despite the overall trend, the monthly production index was lower during September 2010- the fourth decline this year following increases during the previous five consecutive months. Production in third quarter 2010 was 5.6 per cent below the pre-crisis level reached in 2007.

Chemicals sales in the European Union showed a further improvement in August, up 20.9 per cent as compared with August 2009. For the first eight months of 2010, total sales were 17.6 per cent higher compared to the first eight months the year prior. However, domestic sales in the EU Single Market showed slightly lower improvement, up 16.4 per cent during the first seven months of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009.

Trade surplus up 9.7 per cent compared with the previous year

The EU external trade surplus for chemicals improved during the first eight months of 2010 by 9.7 per cent compared with the same period the previous year. The sector generated an extra-EU trade surplus of nearly €32 billion in the period from January to August 2010 – up €2.8 billion compared with the same period in 2009.

Specialty chemicals mainly contributed to the additional surplus, sectoral analysis reveals. External demand from the rest of Europe, Latin America, and emerging Asia primarily drove the EU trade surplus spike during the first eight months of 2010.EU chemicals prices up five per cent in first three quarters of 2010. Prices rose by five per cent during the first three quarters of 2010 compared with the period from January to September 2009. The monthly data show that EU chemicals prices in September 2010 were up by 5.9 per cent as compared with September 2009.

According to the latest Business and Consumer Survey (BCS) released in November 2010 by the European Commission, the EU Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) improved further, and it is now above its long-term average. The indicator increased strongly, climbing by 1.3 points to 105.2. These results were boosted by strong improvement in Germany. Among the seven largest EU Member States, Germany registered the most significant increase, up 2.8, followed by a 1.4-point increase in Italy. Improvement was less pronounced in the United Kingdom, posting a 0.5-point increase while the Netherlands was up 0.4.

Sentiment in services 3.0 up in EU

Sentiment remained broadly stable in Spain, Poland and France. In Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, the ESI is above its long-term average. Sentiment in services increased markedly by 3.0 in the European Union and was the main contributor to the overall improvement. Confidence in industry improved by 0.7 points in the European Union and was mainly driven by buoyant German industry. Gains in industrial confidence reflected improvements in order books and production expectations. Export order books have also become more upbeat, in both the European Union and the euro area. Confidence among consumers increased only marginally in the European Union, up 0.5. Sentiment in the retail sector decreased by 0.7 point in the European Union. Sentiment in construction set back in both regions and was -0.9 in the European Union mainly owing to sizeable negative readings in Spain.

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