Economic environment and business development

General economic situation The global economy grew by 2.9% in the second quarter of 2014 and thus at a slightly faster rate than in the preceding quarter. Supported by demand from private households, economic output in Western Europe improved by 1.6%. North America showed a significant recovery from its weather-related weakness in the first quarter, with second-quarter growth of 3.0%. Economic output in China expanded by 7.5%, somewhat faster than in the preceding quarter. Development in Latin America was weak.

Chemical industry Production in the chemical industry increased by 3.8% in the second quarter. China posted robust growth. The United States saw a slight increase in production volumes, while a significant decline was evident in Brazil. Europe, however, experienced moderate growth.

Evolution of major user industries Automotive production showed a slight increase of 2.1% in the second quarter of 2014, driven mainly by China. Europe and North America also registered modest growth, while Latin America saw very weak development.

Demand for tires, especially replacement tires, increased worldwide in the second quarter of 2014. Only Brazil recorded a drop in demand. The European tire market saw heterogeneous development, with slightly reduced momentum compared with the preceding quarter.

Following a modest performance in the first quarter for weather-related reasons, the U.S. construction industry delivered positive impetus in the reporting period. The Chinese construction industry also grew significantly, with a shift away from residential construction toward infrastructure projects.

Demand for agrochemicals in Europe began well in the new growing season. Expansion in this sector also continued in the emerging economies. In the United States, however, the period of extremely cold weather in the first quarter led to planting delays that accordingly impacted demand.