European chemicals sector output was stagnant in 2013,
according to the latest Chemical Trends Report,
released on Monday from industry body Cefic.
Zero growth in 2013 meant the sector remained 6.4% below the
pre-crisis, full-year peak level reached in 2007. The
year-end figure was slightly better than the Cefic forecast
given last September, which predicted a slight contraction of
0.5% for the year.
The latest monthly data showed output expanding 2.0% in
December year on year, the fourth consecutive month of
above-zero growth. A stronger second half 2013 helped pull
the sector out of a recession.
EU chemicals exports helped to drive sector activity, with
the net trade surplus reaching 45.8 billion through
November 2013. The surplus grew by 779 million during
the January-November 2013 period compared with the same
period the year prior.
Meanwhile, EU chemicals prices fell 2.7% in December 2013
compared to December 2012. Year-on-year total sales were 3.3%
lower for the first 11 months of 2013.
Sector confidence decreased slightly in January 2014, after
increasing for three consecutive months. Capacity utilization
saw a minor drop from 79.1% in the third quarter of 2013 to
78.8% in the fourth.
output continued to
contract in December, down by 7.1% compared with December
2012. The steep drop was partially offset by strong growth in
basic inorganics, up 8.8% in December year-on-year.
Polymers output expanded by 4.0% while consumer chemicals
grew by 0.8%. Specialty chemicals expanded by 1.6% during the
December 2013 chemical prices lower than 2012 levels
EU chemical producer prices in December fell 2.7% compared to
the same month the year prior. Producer prices for the whole
year of 2013 were 1.0% lower than the year 2012.
January-December producer prices remained 11.6% higher than
the pre-crisis, full-year peak level reached in 2008.
November chemicals sales fall, remain slightly above
EU chemicals sales in November dropped 2.0% compared with the
same month the previous year. Sales for the first eleven
months of 2013 were 3.3% less than during the same period in
2012. EU chemicals sales during the first eleven months of
2013 were 1.1% higher than the full-year peak level reached
in 2008 before the crisis.
Net trade surplus widens in November
The EU chemicals net trade surplus continued to grow,
reaching yet another record level. The surplus stood at
45.8 billion during the first 11 months of the year.
The surplus was led by a 14.4 billion positive trade
balance with non-EU countries in Europe
Russia up 0.5 billion from the same
period in 2012.
The January-to-November 2013 trade surplus with Asia
excluding Japan and China reached 6.7 billion,
up 2.2 billion on the same period the year prior.
Meanwhile, the EU net chemicals trade surplus with China
decreased slightly from 1.33 billion in
January-November 2012 to 1.27 billion during the
comparable period in 2013.
The US continued to close the trade deficit gap with the Europe
an Union, narrowing during
the 11-month period by 2.1 billion to 6.0
Confidence fell slightly in January
The EU chemical industry confidence indicator (CCI),
generated by Cefic, was lower in January 2014 compared with
Companies output expectations for the months ahead had
an impact on the lower reading. Overall order books for the
coming months registered also a downturn in January 2014
compared to December 2013.
The confidence reading for the sector in January was above
the long-term average, measured from 2005 to 2012, for the
fifth consecutive month.
Capacity utilization in the EU chemical industry decreased
slightly, from 79.1% in the third quarter of 2013 to 78.8% in
the fourth. But it remains 6.6% below the post-crisis peak
level recorded in the second quarter of 2011.