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European Chemical Industry Production Decline for European Chemical Industry

Editor: Dominik Stephan

Is the time of optimism over? The chemical industry of crisis struck Europe announces a slight but significant output drop of 2.1 percent through first five months of 2012. The figures for May 2012 indicate that production levels are 0.7 percent below May 2011 level, industry association Cefic says.

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EU chemicals sector output drops 2.1 per cent through first five months of 2012
EU chemicals sector output drops 2.1 per cent through first five months of 2012
(Picture: Cefic)

The chemicals production in the European Union recorded a 2.1 percent drop during the first five months of 2012 compared with the previous year, the latest Cefic Chemicals Trends Report indicates. Monthly data for May 2012 showed a 0.7 per cent decline compared with May 2011. Although the year on year decline seems to be only slight, the EU chemicals production level remains 4.7 per cent below the peak in 2007.

Prices for chemicals continue their upward trend: Compared to the comparable month in 2011, chemicals prices rose by 2.7 percent, lead again by the overall price increase in basic inorganics. Latest trade data show the EU chemicals net trade surplus improved through the first four months of 2012 by €2.3 billion compared with the same period of last year, reaching €16 billion.

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Confidence in the EU Chemical Industry Falters

The steadfast optimism of early 2012 is, nevertheless, past: According to the latest EU Commission survey from July 30, 2012, confidence in the EU chemicals industry deteriorated in May, based mainly on a strong deterioration in managers' expectations for the months ahead. Capacity utilisation decreased in the second quarter of 2012 to 78.3 percent in the EU chemicals industry, which is in line with the EU industry as a whole during the same period.

Chemicals Output Lower in May

Monthly data for May 2012 showed a 0.7 per cent decline for the EU chemicals industry compared with May the previous year. Especially polymers production gave in in May 2012 by 4.5 percent against the comparable period the year prior, while specialty chemicals experienced only a minor decline of 0.3 percent.

Basic inorganics and petrochemicals production, however, were the only two sectors where production increased significantly in May, up 4.4 per cent and 3 per cent respectively on a year-on-year basis. Consumer chemicals registered a small increase of 0.2 per cent in May 2012.

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