European Chemicals Sector: Production Down, Prices Up
CHEManager Europe 9/2012) Ups and downs - The European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) reports that EU chemicals production recorded a 2.4 % decrease in the first six months of 2012 compared with the same period in 2011, according to the latest Cefic Chemicals Trends Report. Monthly data for June 2012 showed a 2.2 % decline compared with June the year prior. First-half 2012 data point to EU chemicals production levels remaining 5.8 % below the peak in 2007.
Prices for chemicals in the European Union climbed on a year-on-year basis in June, up 1.6 % during the month against the comparable month in 2011. The price increase was led yet again by the overall price increase in basic inorganics. However, month on month price data for June 2012 indicate a 1.2 % decrease compared with May. Despite a monthly break in the upward price trend, overall prices for chemicals climbed by 3.4 % during the first half of 2012 against the comparable period in 2011.
Latest trade data show the EU chemicals net trade surplus increased further through the first five months of 2012 by €3.6 billion compared with the same period of last year, reaching €19.9 billion. According to the latest EU Commission survey from August 30, 2012, confidence in the EU chemicals industry declined slightly in August 2012, and gradually continued the downward trend reported since April 2012. This is in line with the EU industry as a whole where confidence continued to decline since March 2012.
Year-on-year June Chemicals Output Lower
Monthly data for June 2012 showed a 2.2 % output decline for the EU chemicals industry compared with June the previous year. Polymers production was down in June 2012 by 8.4 % against the comparable period the year prior. Petrochemicals and specialty chemicals experienced a similar fall of 2.5 %in June 2012. Basic inorganics and consumer chemicals, however, were the only two sectors where production increased in June, up 1.7 % and 1.2 % respectively on a year-on-year basis.
EU Trade Surplus up by €3.6 Billion
An EU net trade surplus with the NAFTA region contributed significantly to the bump in the January-May overall surplus, reaching €4.9 billion, up €1.5 billion compared with the same period in 2011. The EU net trade surplus with the Rest of Europe was €5.9 billion in the first five months of 2012, up €0.9 billion compared with the same period of last year. A €2.3 billion surplus occurred with Asia, excluding Japan and China, which fell €0.4 billion compared with the first five months of 2011. May 2012 trade data indicate a €19.9 billion overall EU chemicals net trade surplus.
Prices for Basic Inorganics Climbed
Year-on-year EU chemicals prices rose in June by 1.6 %, driven by the price for basic inorganics, which increased by 3.7 % during the one-month period. Prices for consumer chemicals rose by 1.1 %, while petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals prices edged down respectively by 1.6 % and 1.5 % in June as compared with the year prior.
EU Sales in Jan.-May 2012 5.8 % Higher
EU chemicals sales for May 2012 were 1.9 % lower compared with May the year prior. EU chemicals sales recorded a 1.0 % decrease in the first five months of 2012 compared with the same period in 2011. Compared to full-year sales levels in 2008, the pre-crisis peak, the total value of sales through the first five months of 2012 was 5.8 % higher. The full report can be read at www.cefic.org