LONDON (ICIS)--European chemicals production in January 2014 rose 3% year on year despite petrochemicals output continuing to struggle, falling 4.2% over the same period, the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) said on Wednesday.
The decline in petrochemicals in January was offset by strong growth in polymers and basic inorganics, which increased 7.2% and 6.0% respectively, a 4.9% rise in specialty chemicals output, while consumer chemicals production rose 3.3% year on year.
The increase in output in January represents the fourth month in which chemical European manufacturers see their production rising, although despite the increase the output remains at pre 2008 financial crisis levels, said Cefic.
“Growth is recovering only slowly: We have yet to return to the level of output achieved seven years ago, before the crisis. The data highlight the urgent need to bring about the European industrial renaissance proposed by European policymakers,” said Hubert Mandery, Cefic director.
Meanwhile, petrochemicals prices in January were 5.1% lower than in the same month last year, Cefic said in its report, as chemical prices in general decreased 2.8%, despite a rise in output.
Nevertheless, Cefic said in 2013 overall, producer prices stood 11.8% higher than the pre-crisis, full-year peak reached in 2008, before the financial crisis started.
The report also showed that confidence levels, measured by Cefic’s Industry Confidence Indicator (CCI), remained unchanged in March compared with February.
The CCI monthly reading reflected companies’ lower output expectations, though overall order books for the coming months and current stock levels improved slightly.
“This is in line with the EU manufacturing confidence indicator, showing a marginal decrease of 0.3 points in March 2014 compared to February 2014. During the fourth quarter of 2013 capacity utilisation in the EU chemical industry decreased slightly, to 78.8%. It remains 6.6% below the post-crisis peak recorded in the first quarter of 2011," Cefic said.
European chemical production. Source: Cefic.