Europe chemicals output stagnates as industry surges

Author: Tom Brown

2020/07/14

LONDON (ICIS)--EU chemicals production output was stagnant in May despite double-digit percentage increases in general industrial production, according to data from statistics body Eurostat on Tuesday.

Chemicals output grew 0.2% in the 27-country EU and contracted 0.1% in the 19-country eurozone month on month in May, significantly under-performing general industry in the regions that month.

The wider industrial sector increased output 11.4% month on month in the EU and 12.4% in the eurozone.

The disparity between the pace of growth in chemicals could be due in part to the resurgence of automotive production, which started to gear back up during May after being essentially offline through April and parts of March.

Output in the chemicals-intensive industry fell to levels not seen in half a century in some countries.

Eurozone durable consumer goods production rose 54.2% month on month in May while capital goods output rose 25.4%.

The automotive sector is a key end market for chemicals, but inventory overhangs are a factor in many sectors, and producers may still be working through existing stocks.

Year on year, industrial output remained down 20.5% and 20.9% in the EU and eurozone compared to May 2019.

Chemicals producers in France and Italy increased output 11.1% and 7.4% respectively, while German firms remained in the doldrums, with production remaining in contraction in what is traditionally seen as the engine of eurozone industry for the third consecutive month at -5.4%.

The sharpest expansion was seen in Romania, where chemicals output increased 44.7%, while the deepest contraction was suffered by players in Estonia, where production fell 23.4% month on month.

Front page picture: Aerial view of Marl chemicals park in Germany
Source: Hans Blossey/imageBROKER/Shutterstock