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EMI: German industry was able to slow down the downturn in December

by David Fleschen

The downward trend in the manufacturing sector continued to weaken at the end of the year. This was mainly due to more smoothly functioning supply chains, S&P Global reported. The seasonally adjusted S&P Global/BME Purchasing Managers' Index (EMI) stood at 47.1 points in December 2022, once again below the growth threshold of 50. At least it increased from November's 46.2, climbing to its highest level in three months.

"The latest EMI data show that the situation in German industry has improved somewhat at the end of the year thanks to improved material availability. The business outlook is also assessed more positively by many EMI survey participants," emphasised Dr Helena Melnikov, Chief Executive of the German Association of Materials Management, Purchasing and Logistics (BME), in Eschborn on Wednesday. However, they were still very concerned about the sharp rise in energy prices. The mood is also clouded by the persistently high inflation and the war in Ukraine. On the other hand, the fact that purchase prices fell in December for the third month in a row was positive.

"The mood in German industry is still signalling recession, but the first rays of hope are beginning to show for 2023. The German economy will decline in the first quarter, but after that positive growth rates should return," commented Dr. Gertrud R. Traud, chief economist at Helaba Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen, on Wednesday in response to a BME query about the latest EMI data. The supply side is easing due to fewer problems in the supply chains. Prices would still rise in 2023, but not as strongly as last year. "2023 can actually only get better," the Helaba bank director added in her statement for the BME.

"After the turbulence surrounding energy supplies in the winter, a new normality will take hold in Germany as the year progresses. In the short term, the economy is expected to recover, which should start as early as the second half of 2023. In the medium term, however, it will be difficult to achieve satisfactory growth results," Dr Ulrich Kater, Chief Economist at DekaBank, told BME on Wednesday. He said the German economy was in a period of upheaval in view of demographics, the climate crisis, deglobalisation and technological disruption, which would continue in the new year.

"At the beginning of the year, there are faint glimmers of hope that the industry might get through the winter a little better than feared. The supply bottlenecks are gradually easing. Companies are better able to process their orders. However, risks remain: Global demand is weakening and high Corona figures in China and the associated production losses could throw international supply traffic out of balance again," DIHK economic expert Jupp Zenzen told BME on Wednesday.

Dennis Rheinsberg, Director - Energy & Industrials at IKB Deutsche Industriebank AG, gave the following assessment of the latest development of the EMI sub-index for purchasing prices to the BME on Wednesday: "Commodity prices moved mostly sideways in December and thus continued their bottoming out. The downward trend in energy prices had a relieving effect, even though they are still at a very high level. The cold phase in December only led to higher gas prices for a short time, and the storage facilities are still well filled at around 90 per cent. The first LNG deliveries via floating terminals in Wilhelmshaven and soon Lubmin are additionally supporting the supply. An increase in LNG prices is not to be expected in the short term, especially due to the dampened demand from China caused by the pandemic. Overall, however, the milder recession expectations with low inventories could lead to rising commodity prices in the course of the first quarter. This is all the more true if the Corona development in China should result in a renewed aggravation of supply chain problems."

Source: BME, Photo: Fotolia

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