After a strong start to the year, German exporters suffered an unexpectedly severe setback in March. Owing to weaker demand from the most important markets of the EU, the USA and China, their exports slumped 5.2% from the previous month to Euro 129.7 billion, according to the Federal Statistical Office. Increases of 2.7% and 4% had been seen in, respectively, January and February. Economists surveyed by the Reuters news agency had expected a negative figure, but only of 2.4%. Imports fell even more sharply - by 6.4% to Euro 113 billion.
The global economy is not running smoothly: high inflation numbers, rising interest rates and growing geopolitical uncertainties in light of the Ukraine conflict are darkening companies’ investment mood.
The markets are very volatile. In the aluminium sector, smelters are struggling with energy prices and have been reducing capacity utilization for months. It is difficult to maintain an overview in a market where not even the smelters can plan. The constantly changing parameters in the global market mean prices vary greatly from region to region.
After the losses on the LME, the copper sector is becoming very quiet. Many market participants who collect and process part loads or one load per month cannot hedge; therefore, these quantities are not sold at a lower LME but are kept back in anticipation of better markets.
One positive factor involves logistics: sea freight rates are falling, thus helping to sustain the international market.