European Union (EU) chemicals production recorded a 1.9%
decrease in the first four months of 2012 compared with the
same period in 2011, according to the latest Cefic Chemicals
Trends Report. Monthly data for April 2012 showed a 1.9%
decline compared with the previous April. April 2012 data show
that the EU chemicals production level remains 5.2% below the
peak in 2007.
Prices for chemicals in the EU continued to climb on a
year-on-year basis in April, up 3.2% during the month against
the comparable month in 2011. The price increase was led yet
again by the overall price increase in basic inorganics. The
latest data show the EU chemicals net trade surplus improved
through the first quarter of 2012 by 2.4 billion,
compared with the same period last year, reaching 12.5
billion. According to the latest EU Commission survey from May
30, 2012, confidence in the EU chemicals industry declined in
May, based mainly on a strong deterioration in managers
expectations for the months ahead.
Consumer chemicals was the only subsector to avoid a drop in
the April EU chemicals production index, up 1.6% in April 2012
compared with April 2011. Specialty chemicals and basic
inorganics production decreased in April by 4.2% and 3.8%,
respectively, on a year-on-year basis. Polymers production
declined in April 2012 by 2.7% against the comparable period
the year prior. Petrochemicals experienced no change
in the same period.
Monthly data for April 2012 showed a 1.9% decline for the EU
chemicals industry compared, with April of the previous year.
The EU trade surplus improved by 2.4 billion through the
first quarter of 2012, and March 2012 trade data indicated a
12.5 billion overall EU chemicals net trade surplus. An
EU net trade surplus with the NAFTA region contributed
significantly to the additional surplus generated from January
to March, reaching 3.3 billion, up 1.3 billion
compared with the period from January to March 2011. The EU net
trade surplus with the rest of Europe was 3.4 billion in the
first quarter of 2012, up 0.5 billion compared with the
first quarter of 2011. A 1.5 billion surplus occurred
with Asia, excluding Japan, and China, which fell 0.5
billion when compared with the first quarter of 2011.
EU chemicals sales for March 2012 were 1.4% lower compared
with March 2011. The overall sales level continues to surpass
the pre-crisis peak reached at the beginning of 2008. Compared
to full-year sales levels in 2008, the total value of sales
through the first three months of 2012 was 6.1% higher.
As previously mentioned, the latest EU Commission report
revealed confidence in the EU chemicals industry deteriorating
markedly (5.4) in May 2012, based mainly on a strong
deterioration in managers expectations for the months
ahead (8.5). Moreover, managers assessment of their
companies current level of order books deteriorated
sharply (4.2). Also, the assessment of the adequacy of
the current level of stocks of finished products worsened.
Managers assessments of their companies past
production and current level of export order books also
declined. Employment plans were further revised down. At the
same time, selling price expectations decreased modestly.