Short-term economic overview (27 February 2013)

Analyse and comment the international, the national and the Milan Area scenario.

The European economy slowed down at the end of 2012: during the fourth quarter GDP decreased by -0.6% in Germany, -0.3% in France and -0.9% in Italy. Over the whole year 2012, GDP rose by +0.7% in Germany, it was unvaried in France, it fell by -2.2% in Italy and -0.5% in the Euro Area, while it increased by +2.2% in the USA (but slacking during the end of the year). Recent surveys about the expectations of the entrepreneurs signalled an improvement in the economic trend in the Usa, in China and in Germany.

In February the €/$ exchange rate has shown a progressive depreciation, falling from 1.3644 on 01/02/2013 to 1.3103 today, 27/02/2013.

In January raw material prices in euro increased by +0.6% according to Confindustria and by +1% to Prometeia. Brent quotation has been stable a little under 115$ barrel during last days (114.11$ on 26/02/2013).

In January inflation descended to 2.0% in the Euro Area (from 2.2% in December 2012) and to 2.2% in Italy (from 2.3%), while it remained steady at 2.0% in Milan.

In December the unemployment rate was stable at 11.7% in the Euro Area, at 5.3% in Germany and at 11.2% in Italy. It grew to 10.6% in France and decreased to 26.1% in Spain. In the Usa the rate remained steady at 7.8%.

The manufacturing confidence index1 grew in the Euro Area also in February, strengthening the slow but constant recovery that has started in November 2012. The rise of the indicator was due to the high increase in the production expectations and to the progressive growth of the orders, while the stock of finished products were over normal levels again. In detail, the index augmented one more time in Germany and started to increase again in Italy, France and Spain after the slowdown in January. In line with the European trend, in January the manufacturing confidence index increased in the Milan Area for the third consecutive month, thanks to the jump of production expectations and to the recovery of orders, whilst stock were slightly over normal levels.

According to the Assolombarda survey about budgets for 2013, 4 firms over 10 expect an increase in turnover and an equal proportion of firms expects a stationary value. Operational costs will be similar to those in 2012 according to more than half of the companies; because of this EBITDA and net income will be stable or increasing for almost 2/3 of the interviewed. New investments will be start by 20% of the companies and 34% of them will increase the equity. Relatively to the conditions of credit access, 59% of the companies judge them unvaried or more favourable compared to one year ago, while 39% of the interviewed as less favourable.

The manufacturing export in value grew by +3.6% in 2012 compared to 2011 (+6.4% over the pick in 2008). All manufacturing sectors went substantially back to the levels of 2008, except for electrical appliances (-8.7% over 2008) and automotive (-8.3%). These performances were due to the higher and higher capability of the firms to reach extra-UE markets.

According to Istat, the Italian industrial production fell by -6.6% in 2012 (-19.2% compared to 2008). The manufacturing turnover shrank by -4.3% compared to 2011 (-9.8% over 2008): in 2012 all sectors had a turnover below that of 2011, except for food (+1%) and oil products (+5,7%). 

After the usual slowdown at the end of 2012, the total amount of authorized hours of CIG2 grew again in January 2013 both in the Milan Area and in Italy. The only exception was CIG in Deroga that dropped as compared with December 2012, especially at national level. The request of CIG Ordinaria increased for the Assolombarda companies by +31%, but the growth was lower than that in the Milan Area (+59%): because of this the share of Assolombarda companies’ CIGO on the total amount of the Milan Area decreased from 22% to 18%.


1 Data referred to European countries are extracted from the monthly survey on manufacturing sector harmonized by the European Commission. Assolombarda carries out an analogous survey interviewing 350 associated companies every month. The manufacturing confidence index is the main indicator of these surveys and is calculated as the mathematical average of the seasonally adjusted data on production expectations, orders and stock of finished products (with inverted sign).

2 Cassa Integrazione Guadagni (CIG) is a particular Italian shock absorber. It is a redundancy fund which helps companies to keep labour force in times of economic difficulties. It allows workers to receive a part of their wages. There are three kinds of CIG: Ordinary (Cassa Integrazione Ordinaria - CIGO), Extraordinary (Cassa Integrazione Straordinaria - CIGS) and Special (Cassa Integrazione in Deroga - CIG in Deroga).

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