17 March 2006 12:24 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS news)--European chemicals producer confidence rose slightly in February as selling prices increased but prospects for the sector in 2006 are uncertain, industry association Cefic said on Friday.
“The business climate analysis shows that the chemicals industry will hopefully experience a positive trend during the coming months,” Cefic said. “Managers are more optimistic about their production expectations for the first quarter 2006.”
Cefic said the same optimism was shared by EU industrial sectors such as machinery and equipment, while the automotive, leather, basic metals, food and beverage sectors were expected to experience a fragile recovery in Q1. The textile, rubber, plastics and paper sectors, however, were still in recession and suffering from a lack of confidence, said Cefic.
Managers in the EU chemicals industry were also less pessimistic about their competitiveness on the external EU market, added Cefic.
It said chemical producer prices rose by 3.3% in January compared with the same month last year.
On the sectoral side, the price index pointed to an 11.4% rise in petrochemicals and an 8% increase in polymers, mainly driven by the hike in oil costs, Cefic said. Prices for base chemicals continued to drive the upward trend, while consumer chemicals only increased by 1%.
Chemicals sales totalled Euro456bn ($541.8bn) in January, up 8.5% from a year earlier, mainly driven by base chemicals sales.
The extra-EU chemicals trade balance in 2005 deteriorated with most EU trade partners such as ?xml:namespace>
Employment in the EU chemicals industry fell by 1.2% in 2005 compared with 2004.
“Prospects for 2006 are uncertain and heavily dependent on the world economic development and the buoyancy of the trade environment,” Cefic said. “The current continuing depreciation of the euro is without doubt an encouraging factor.”
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