German Two-Month Chemical Sales ‘Surprisingly Strong,’ VCI Says

Germany’s chemical industry was “surprisingly strong” in January and February as industrial customers started restocking inventories, Utz Tillmann, head of the VCI German chemical association, said.

While the beginning of March has been “somewhat more cautious,” it looks as if the first quarter will be better than the three months through December, Tillmann said yesterday at a press conference in Frankfurt, where the organization is based.

BASF SE, the world’s biggest chemical maker, said last month it expects earnings and sales to rise this year. Customers started ordering again in January after letting inventories shrink at the end of last year, Chief Executive Officer Kurt Bock said. VCI, which represents 1,650 chemical companies including BASF and Lanxess AG, reiterated a full-year forecast for chemical sales to gain 2 percent.

“Industrial customers at home have ordered more chemicals in the past months,” the VCI said in its quarterly report. “In the absence of new setbacks, this trend will probably continue for the rest of 2013. Even neighboring European countries are showing a moderate upward trend.”

Chemical production will probably increase 1.5 percent with selling prices rising 0.5 percent, leading to the gain of 2 percent in sales to 190 billion euros ($247 billion), VCI reiterated.

Fourth-quarter sales in the chemical industry rose 3.8 percent compared with a year earlier, VCI said. The industry employed 437,000 people at the end of the quarter, 2 percent more than a year earlier.

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