German Chemical Growth Slows in Q3

04.11.2015 -

Growth in the German chemical industry slowed in the third quarter, with production easing back 1.4% against the previous three-month period, due to slack demand in summer. Compared with the 2014 quarter, however, production rose by 1.1%, the industry association Verband der Chemischen Industrie (VCI) said in its quarterly report.

“For the coming months, we are expecting a changeable market with only moderate growth impulses, both at home in Germany and also in Europe and Asia,” said VCI President Marijn Dekkers, who is CEO of Bayer.

After seeing slight improvement earlier in 2015, VCI said across-the-board sales of German chemical producers declined by 2.5% in Q3 against Q2 and by 1.5% against Q3 2014. Selling prices increased by 0.6% against Q2 but fell back 1.5% year-on-year.

Within Germany, sales, at €44.7 billion, dropped back by 1% against the preceding quarter and 2% year-on-year. In the export sector – the motor of business for German chemical producers – the industry posted sales of €27.4 billion, with the gap to the second quarter particularly severe at 3.5%. Sales weakened by 1% year-on-year.

On the foreign sales front, VCI’s figures show revenue setbacks in all global regions, with sales in the producers’ most important market, EU-15, which accounts for nearly half of the total, shrinking by 1.5% against Q2 and 0.6% year-on-year. Impacted by the slip in the euro-dollar exchange rate, the biggest decline was in NAFTA, with an 8% drop against Q3 and a drop of 14% year-on-year. Growth in China and other emerging markets weakened against Q2.

Employment across the industry remained stable in Q3.

Looking at the overall picture, the industry association said the third quarter was not entirely disappointing, as developments have shown that the sector’s companies are fit enough to perform well even in a difficult economic environment.

Going forward, VCI noted that uncertainty among its members about the prospects for business is growing, especially in light of recessions in Russia and Brazil and the cooling of the Chinese business climate.

Expectations for business with the EU are slightly better. Despite the continued precarious situation in Greece, in most countries the chemical industry is said to be stabilizing, with demand improving. The slip in the euro-dollar exchange rate is also seen as helping. By contrast, sinking oil prices are depressing chemical selling prices.

VCI is especially enthusiastic about the outlook for the US market, thanks to the shale gas boom and the exchange rate bonus.

For full year 2015, German chemical producers expect a modest rise in production of around 1.5%, with selling prices falling by 2.5% Sales are forecast to be flat at €191 billion, with foreign sales picking up slightly and domestic sales seeing decreases.