European chemical output grew just 0.1 per cent during the first two months of 2015 compared to the same period of 2014, according to the latest Cefic Chemicals Trends Report, while producer prices fell 6.8 per cent, year-on-year.
Brussels/Belgium – Latest monthly data show no real pick-up in February 2015. Output grew by 0.3 per cent compared with February 2014, while EU chemicals prices plunged 7.3 per cent.
The toughening outlook for producers is reflected in a fall in chemicals confidence between March and April this year: chemical order books and production expectations for the coming months have worsened. Capacity utilisation remained broadly unchanged in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the fourth quarter of last year.
“Despite a gradual pick-up in the European economy, companies are wrestling with flat demand, falling prices and fierce competition from rivals who benefit from cheaper energy in the US and the Arabian Gulf”, said Cefic Director General Hubert Mandery.
Output flat overall but variations by product
Petrochemicals output continued to slide in February 2015, down a significant 2.9 per cent compared with February 2014. The drop was partially offset by 4.6 per cent growth in output of specialty chemicals. Basic inorganics output grew modestly by 0.6 per cent in February. Polymers and consumer chemicals output declined 1.4 per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively in February 2015 compared to February 2014. Overall, EU chemicals output crept ahead just 0.3 per cent in February 2015 year-on-year and for the first two months was up just 0.1 per cent compared to same period of 2014.
Latest monthly data show EU chemical producer prices fell a hefty 7.3 per cent compared to February 2014. Prices dropped by 6.8 per cent during the first two months of 2015 compared to the same period of 2014. Full-year 2014 prices slid 1.8 per cent compared to 2013. Total EU chemical sales dropped 5.5 per cent during the first two months of 2015 compared to the same period one year ago. Sales during 2014 were close to the pre-crisis full-year peak reached in 2008.
Confidence declined slightly in April 2015
The EU chemical industry confidence indicator (CCI) fell in April 2015 compared to March of the same year. Worsening production expectations for the months ahead and gloomier assessments of order book levels contributed to this decline. Stocks were expected to remain unchanged in April 2015 compared to one month ago. The confidence of producers remains above the long- term average. However, other confidence components also declined in April 2015, including around export order books and employment expectations for the months ahead.