Germany: cautious optimism
After a slip in cement consumption in 2013, the first seven months of 2014 saw cement sales in Germany rebound 7.6 per cent as the housing sector in particular delivered a strong performance. The demand for infrastructure gives reason for some optimism going forward, but subdued economic growth and rising house prices could check cement demand.
The German economy grew by 2.7 per cent in 2013, having expanded by 2.2 per cent in the previous year. This compares with growth rates of 3.9 per cent in 2011 and 5.1 per cent in 2010. In the 1Q14, economic growth was particularly strong with the IMF citing 0.8 per cent QoQ growth, although this figure was boosted by a much milder winter when compared with the previous year and growth for the remainder of 2014 is forecast to be of a more modest nature.
In addition, unemployment has fallen to 5.2 per cent, a post-unification low, and as a result, the country has been able to rely on healthy tax revenues and hence, public finances, offering room for construction investment.