Business conditions

General economic situation The global economy grew by 3.5% in the third quarter of 2014 and thus at a faster rate than in both the preceding quarter and the prior-year period. Development was held back in part by the various regional crises. Economic output in Europe advanced at a low level, improving by 1.1% year on year in the third quarter. Driven by the persisting positive mood, the U.S. economy expanded by 2.3% compared with the prior-year period. Economic development in China showed a varied trend and closed the quarter up 7.3%, slightly below the growth forecast for the full year.

Chemical industry The chemical industry was unable to avoid the dampening effects of global developments, expanding more slowly in the third quarter than in the previous three-month period, at 2.8%. China continued to drive growth, although the pace of expansion slowed somewhat as the quarter progressed. Production in the United States saw robust development, while Europe registered slight growth.

Evolution of major user industries Automotive production showed an increase of 3.6% in the third quarter of 2014, driven primarily by development in China. While output in North America was above the prior-year level, development in Europe was down slightly compared with the third quarter of last year. In Brazil there were initial signs of a slight improvement compared to the weak second quarter. Development in Latin America as a whole, however, was very weak.

Demand for tires rose only modestly worldwide in the third quarter. In Europe, the tire market also expanded somewhat compared with the prior-year level. However, the tangible upswing seen in the replacement tire business in the industrialized countries in the first half of the year abated in the third quarter. The original equipment tire business mirrored the trend for vehicle production; development in China and North America was positive while the market in Brazil remained very weak.

Development in the construction industry varied by region, with positive growth overall in North America and a year-on-year drop in market momentum in Europe. The robust growth in China also began to cool down. 

Demand for agrochemicals in Europe and China posted significant gains, while third-quarter production in the United States was slightly below the prior-year level.