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According to financial services provider S&P Global in its monthly survey of around 800 companies, the Purchasing Managers’ Index for the private sector (industry and service providers combined) rose for the third month in a row in January - by 0.7 points to a seven-month high of 49.7. Economists polled by the Reuters news agency had expected an increase to 49.6.

The barometer is thus only just below the 50-point mark, above which growth is signalled. GDP had stagnated in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to initial estimates from the Federal Statistical Office.

Industry is largely treading water; here the barometer is even falling, albeit by only 0.1 to 47.0 points. There are signs that supply problems are easing and inflation is also decreasing. While the cost burden on industry has eased rapidly, the upward pressure on costs in the service sector was much stronger owing to high wage demands.

The labour market once again did quite well: more jobs were created than at any time in the previous six months, especially among service providers. In industry, on the other hand, fewer new jobs were created than at any time in the last two years.

In Brussels, the Waste Shipment Regulation decision for an export ban on plastics and a more stringent regulatory regime for metals means an even greater bureaucratic onus on our business. Instead of easing the burden on the recycling industry, more and more laws are coming that will make it almost impossible for a business in the sustainability sector to operate.

The markets for raw materials from recycling have already experienced strong volatility this year. As recently as December, it had been expected that January would be rather quiet owing to the Chinese New Year but LME price fireworks contributed to the fact that more goods were available than predicted; for the most part, these are quantities that were not sold in the previous quarter. Aluminium sector sales are still somewhat sluggish. Although plants have started to produce more again, there is still a lack of local capacity to place all the volumes in Europe. Official aluminium block prices have declined very slightly. The energy markets have calmed down, not least because of high gas storage in Germany.

In the copper sector, there has been stagnation in sales conditions.