Signs Mount of Economic Slowdown in Europe – ITTO European Market Report 21st February 2008

Signs are mounting that this may be a difficult year for the hardwood trade in Europe. Economic forecasts are becoming more gloomy. According to this week’s Economist journal “the facts suggest that Europe is not weathering the global financial storms well. Figures released on February 14th reveal that the euro-area economy slowed abruptly at the end of 2007. GDP rose by only 1.6% at an annual rate in the fourth quarter-stronger than in America, admittedly, but still a lot slower than before.” The Economist goes on to note that GDP growth in the two largest euro-zone economies, Germany and France, was weaker than the euro-area average. Figures for Italy are not yet out, but existing indications are that the economy may have shrunk in the last quarter of 2007.

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ITTO European Hardwood Market Report 25th January 2008

Forward demand for meranti lumber and scantlings in the Netherlands and Germany is subdued at present due to relatively high stocks, with most business now focused on higher density more durable products. Due to low levels of demand, importers report no problems in securing adequate stock despite a major reduction in production levels in the Far East.  Forward prices for South East Asian wood products offered to EU importers have stabilised in recent weeks, the current relatively low level of demand balanced by the tight supply situation.

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