Macroeconomic and sector-specific conditions

Macroeconomic conditions

Early estimates indicate that the economic uptrend has continued in 2014, albeit at a slower pace. Although most industrialised countries are increasingly contributing to the worldwide recovery, growth is decelerating in key emerging markets.

The latest economic data from China indicates a further reduction in the rate of growth. The high debt levels of companies in that country could hold back growth in subsequent quarters. Risks to growth have also increased in other emerging markets. Following the shift in monetary policy in the United States, these markets suffered outflows of capital (in some cases substantial) and devaluation of their local currencies. The response, which includes a rise in key interest rates, may also hamper growth in future. Furthermore, the Crimea crisis in Ukraine had a negative impact in eastern Europe, leading to a drop in direct investment in Russia and other countries.

By contrast, industrialised countries continued to recover. Despite disruptions to production caused by a cold snap, the United States has been growing at a faster rate than in 2013. Following a scaling back of the sovereign debt crisis, the eurozone registered moderate growth, albeit somewhat more muted in Italy and France. The German economy had a good start to 2014, maintaining its stable path of recovery.

At the moment, global sentiment indicators and leading indicators point to a generally robust business climate, with the piecemeal recovery of the worldwide economy likely to continue over the course of the year.

Sectoral conditions

Sales markets

The global market for industrial trucks generated strong growth in the first quarter of 2014. Manufacturers registered 9.7 per cent more orders than in the corresponding period of 2013.

As was the case in 2013 as a whole, almost half (44 per cent) of the additional trucks ordered were destined for the Chinese market, which saw growth of 17.7 per cent. Growth in this market, which remains by far the largest individual market, was concentrated on diesel trucks in the economy segment. The second largest market is the United States, where the number of orders went up by 16.4 per cent.

The number of trucks ordered in western Europe advanced by 10.3 per cent, making up for the decline in the previous year. Germany and the United Kingdom made a significant contribution to this gain, with growth of 8.2 per cent and 18.3 per cent respectively. Order numbers were also up in Spain and Italy, whereas France only managed a small increase of 2.0 per cent.

Political tension stemming from the crisis in Ukraine had a substantial impact in eastern Europe. The number of trucks ordered in Russia fell by 24.5 per cent. Conditions were more stable in other eastern European countries, with growth of 6.5 per cent.

Among the Asian emerging markets, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore reported particularly sharp rises in orders. By contrast, the numbers were down by a considerable 18.4 per cent in Central and South America. Brazil was unable to maintain the high level of the first quarter of 2013, registering a decrease of 10.0 per cent.

There was an above-average rise in demand for electric forklift trucks (up by 13.0 per cent). Diesel trucks also achieved a sharp year-on-year rise (up by 9.7 per cent), mainly driven by growth in China, whereas the increase was slightly less for warehouse trucks (up by 8.4 per cent). >> TABLE 02

Global industrial truck market (order intake)

>>TABLE 02

in thousand units

Q1 2014

Q1 2013


Source: WITS/FEM





Western Europe




Eastern Europe




North America




Central & South America




Asia (excl. Japan)




Rest of world








Procurement markets and conditions in the financial markets

Overall, commodity prices were lower in the first three months of 2014 than in the same period of the previous year. The price of steel continued to fall, with steel scrap following a particularly steep downward trend. Copper also became much cheaper. The price of Brent crude oil hovered around the US$ 108 mark, which was also below the average price in 2013.

Unfavourable currency effects have again created headwinds this year. The key factors here were the continued strength of the euro combined with the devaluation of currencies in relevant emerging markets.

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