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Business conditions

General economic situation

The global economy expanded by 3.3% in the third quarter of 2013. The eurozone as a whole recorded slight growth in economic output, while both private and public debt levels hampered the development of demand in Western Europe. Growth in the U.S. lagged somewhat behind the preceding quarter and was below the global average. Economic momentum was restrained in the emerging economies as well. China, however, showed somewhat positive development in the third quarter, surpassing its annual growth forecast by a small margin.

Chemical industry

The global chemical industry continued to expand in the third quarter of 2013, with growth of 3.5%. As in the previous quarter, this growth was mainly driven by China and the United States. By contrast, chemical production in Europe and Latin America declined.

Evolution of major user industries

Global automobile production in the third quarter grew by 2.5%, a somewhat slower rate than for the second quarter. Development again varied from one region to another. Significant impetus came from China and the U.S., with Brazil also posting a slight increase. By contrast, European production moved back once more.

The modest recovery in the demand for both original equipment tires and replacement tires that took place in the second quarter continued in the third quarter, with North America outpacing Europe in terms of growth. While China saw a tangible expansion of production as a whole, Brazil registered particularly strong growth in the demand for original equipment tires for heavy-duty commercial vehicles.

Weighed down by the investment-restricting debt levels of private households and the public sector, Europe’s construction sector continued to recede. By contrast, the U.S. construction industry continued the expansion that began earlier this year and is being driven by the demand for new housing.

The demand for agrochemicals was at the level of the preceding quarter, rising by 1.3%. The slower growth was due to weak demand in the U.S. and a slight decrease in Europe.